Skip to main content

Full text of "Grace Theological Journal (1981)"

See other formats



Grace Schools 
Winona Lake, Indiana 46590 

For Reference 

Not to be taken from this room 

West Campus 
Long Eeach, California 90807 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS members and Sloan Foundation 



Volume 2 No 1 Spring 1981 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board 

Homer A. 


Kent, Jr. 

John J. Davis 


William Male 


Editorial Committee 

D. Wayne Knife 

Associate Editor, 
Old Testament 

John C. Whitcomb 

Charles R. Smith 

Associate Editor, 

John A. Sproule 

Associate Editor, 

New Testament 

Production Committee 

James Eisenbraun 

Managing Editor 

Donald L. Fowler 

Book Review Editor 

Weston W. Fields 


Grace Theological Journal is published twice annually. Subscription rates are: $7.50/ 
one year, $13.00/ two years, $18.00/ three years, payable in U.S. funds. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to Grace Theological Journal, Box 318, 
Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be type- 
written, double-spaced, on one side of the page only, and should conform to the 
requirements of the Journal of Biblical Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. 
One exception should be noted, namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts 
for Greek and Hebrew, in contradistinction to JBL. 

Inquiries concerning subscriptions should be addressed to Grace Theological Journal, 
Box 373, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. 

Copyright © 1980 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 2 No 1 Spring 1981 


Kenneth Scott Latourette, A Trail Blazer 3-22 


Genesis 1-3 and the Male/ Female 
Role Relationship 23-44 


Cornelius Van Til and Romans 1:18-21 45-58 


The Peculiarities of Ephesians and the 

Ephesian Address 59-73 


First Class Conditions: What Do They Mean? 75-114 


Paul's Use of the Old Testament in 
Romans 9:25-26 115-129 


The Post-Darwinian Controversies 131-137 


Book Reviews 138-158 

Books Received 158-160 


John R. Battle 

Faith Theological Seminary, Elkins Park, PA 19117 

David A. Black 

Birmannsgasse 24, 4055 Basel, Switzerland 

James L. Boyer 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John D. Hannah 

Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 

Michael F. Stitzinger 

9831 55th Ave., Oaklawn, IL 60453 

David L. Turner 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 



John D. Hannah 

The books of Kenneth Scott Latourette, the famous Sterling 
Professor of History at Yale University, are widely used in the study 
of church history and missions in a variety of Christian institutions. 
This article seeks to delineate and critically evaluate the view of 
Christian history set forth by him. It argues that Latourette 's view of 
history represents a serious departure from the testimony of the 
Scriptures which has not gone undetected by historians and theolo- 
gians, with the result that his interpretation of history should be used 
with caution. The wellspring of the great scholar's views are found in 
the progressivistic spirit of his age and personality, as well as the 
eschatological assumptions of a pietistically informed religious 

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience 

rang interminable changes 
On one everlasting Whisper 

day and night repeated — so: 
Something hidden. Go and find it. 

Go and look behind the Ranges — 
Something lost behind the Ranges. 

Lost and waiting for you. Go! 


hen Rudyard Kipling composed "The Explorer" from which 
the above is taken, he had in mind some hardy pioneer 

'Kenneth Scott Latourette, Beyond the Ranges (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 
9, 155. This term is frequently used of himself in his autobiography. 


tracking hidden valleys and virgin wilds, mapping uncharted terri- 
tories. What would be his reaction today to learn that a dweller in 
ivory towers, an academician — and a church historian, at that — had 
borrowed his language (in a slightly altered form) to entitle an 
autobiography? Other than lodging a legitimate complaint over the 
alteration of his actual words (from "behind" to "beyond the ranges"), 
the sometime poet might be well pleased when he found out more 
about this particular historian. For Kenneth Scott Latourette had a 
career in many respects truly extraordinary, and his personal narrative 
amply demonstrates that his life has been largely lived as a response 
to a call to go "beyond the ranges." 

The impact of Latourette is readily demonstrable in Christian 
institutions of higher learning because his texts continue to inform 
and shape the emerging generation as they have the past. What, 
however, is most arresting is that required texts are often assigned in 
college courses without a recognition of the author's concept or 
definition of the subject. Unfortunately teachers of history are so 
zealous to provide vehicles for the conveyance of information that 
there is too frequently a neglect by teachers to scrutinize carefully the 
presuppositions that undergird the arrangement of the data. This 
article purposes to delineate and evaluate critically Latourette 's theory 
of history. To accomplish this goal, the student must see his theory of 
history within the context of his formative influences and educational 
presuppositions. After describing the mind of Latourette, his defini- 
tion of history will be delineated, with particular emphasis on historic 
causation, form, and culmination. Finally, Latourette's conception of 
history will be evaluated relative to the validity of his historic and 
theological presuppositions. It is the purpose of this article to demon- 
strate that Latourette's theory, while adhering to the form of Christian 
historiography, lacks both the theological content to be denominated 
truly Christian and historic accuracy and realism. 


His family and educational heritage 

The quiet, optimistic bachelor, who became one of America's 
foremost historians of Oriental history, 2 emerged within the context 
of a stable, educated, and religious home. In retrospect he was able to 
comment: "By family background and heredity, as I now see clearly, I 
was prepared to be a trail blazer. ... In both my father's and my 

James E. Wood, Jr., "Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968): Historian, Ecumen- 
ist, and Friend," Journal of Church and Stale 11 (1969) 9. 


mother's family was a long tradition of adventuring on new and 
unmapped frontiers in response to 'a voice as bad as conscience,'" 
His grandparents were a part of that sturdy band that pioneered the 
settlement of Oregon Territory in erecting Oregon City, the oldest 
city in the state, in 1848. There Dewitt Clinton Latourette settled to 
become a successful lawyer and his mother, Rhoda Ellen Scott, 
taught Latin at the University of Washington. 4 The children that 
emerged through this unusual couple were educated in the virtues of 
both religion and learning. The religious environment of "deep Chris- 
tian faith, family worship, and pietistic Baptist church life" 5 functioned 
to make a lasting imprimatur upon all his subsequent activities. 
Indeed, to fail to perceive clearly this influence is to misunderstand 
his philosophy of life and understanding of history. Both theologically 
and religiously, Latourette was a pietist; the church of his boyhood 
was in the Moody tradition; and his home was "an embodiment of 
Christian faith and culture." 6 

The bookish lad then attended McMinnville College, a Baptist 
school where his father had previously taught, which was in reality an 
extension and intensification of the evangelical heritage of his home. 7 
There the valedictorian of the class of 1904 and member of the 
championship debating team became interested in the interdenomina- 
tional work of the Young Men's Christian Association and its cor- 
ollary, the Student Volunteer Movement. His youthful enthusiasm 
led him to sign its celebrated pledge: "It is my promise if God permits 
to become a foreign missionary." As with most decisions that are 
made in haste, this one was repented of in leisure. Much later in life 
he reflected: "I felt as if I had signed my death warrant ... I hated the 
thought." 8 After college he, being not yet twenty, labored in his 
father's law firm for one year before continuing his educational 

From the brief interlude in his academic pursuits he set his scope 
upon Yale College where he completed a B.A. in history in 1906. The 
Student Volunteer Movement had a strong impact on the campus in 
those days through Dwight Hall, a pietistic academic center within 
the college, which focused and defined his previous commitment to 

'Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 9. 

"Ibid., 13. 

'William R. Hogg, "The Legacy of Kenneth Scott Latourette," Occasional Bulletin 
2 (1978) 74. 

'Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 14. 

7 Hogg, "The Legacy," 84-85. 

8 Kenneth Scott Latourette, "My Guided Life," in Frontiers of the Christian World 
Mission Since 1938, ed. Wilber C. Harr (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962) 285. 


foreign missions. He thus prepared for foreign service in the Far East 
through the Yale-in-China educational mission at Changsa. The 
Student Volunteer Movement riveted his attention on Far Eastern 
studies when such a discipline was only embryonically heard of, let 
alone pursued, in this major American center of learning. 9 To prepare 
himself for China, he determined to take further studies in history 
that resulted in an M.A. in 1907 and a doctorate in 1909. 10 For his 
Ph.D. dissertation he wrote The History of the Early Relations 
between the United States and China, 1784-1844, which was published 
in 1917 and twice republished. His doctorate was directed by Frederick 
Wells Williams, who was the son of missionary parents from China. 
It was Williams who solicited Latourette for Yale-in-China. 11 It is 
amusing, if not important, to understand that in Latourette's formal 
training, he had only one course in Church History, that under 
Williston Walker, "who in addition to being an outstanding scholar 
was a superb lecturer." 12 Although Latourette's contact with Walker 
was slight, the structural presuppositions of his mentor are clearly 
seen in his philosophical interpretation of history. 13 In addition, he 
was devoid of any formal training in theology. 

His frustrations in China 

After a year of domestic travel for the Student Volunteer Move- 
ment, Latourette set out for China. His vocational dreams proved 
vaporous, as he was stricken with a severe case of amoebic dysentery 
that forced his premature retirement. Deep mental depression put the 
hope of return to China out of the question, and physical recovery 
took almost two years. After he gained sufficient strength, he turned 
to teaching for a source of financial security at Reed College in 
Portland, Oregon. There his life-purpose began to crystalize. 

Since returning from China I had been deeply impressed by the lack of 
information about the Far East in this country. So far as I knew, in 
only seven colleges and universities were any courses being offered on 
China or Japan and, so far as I could discover, nothing was being done 
in any high school. I believed myself called to be a trail blazer. 14 

'Ralph D. Winter, "The Reluctant Missionary," World Vision Magazine 13 (July- 
August 1969) 4-5. 

10 Theodore E. Bachmann, "Kenneth Scott Latourette: Historian and Friend," in 
Frontiers of the Christian World Mission Since 1938, ed. Wilber C. Harr (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1962) 235. 

"Ibid., 234. 

12 Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 31. 

13 Bachmann, "Kenneth Scott Latourette," 235. 

'"Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 50-51. 


As a result of his studies came The Development of China in 1917. In 
1916 he became Chairman of the Department of History and Political 
Science at Denison University, a Baptist institution in Granville, 
Ohio. 15 At that post he wrote The Development of Japan (1918). He 
continued his dual career, blazing trails in Far Eastern studies and 
laboring for the S.V.M. and Y.M.C.A. In the war years he was 
ordained into the Northern Baptist ministry and served as chaplain at 
the school. 16 

His emergence as an eminent educator 

After the war years, numerous schools sought the services of 
Latourette. After some initial indecision, he accepted the advance of 
his alma mater to replace the retiring Harlan Page Beach. He later 
confessed that "as was true to signing the Student Volunteer declara- 
tion in 1904, I went to the Yale faculty from a sheer sense of duty." 17 
Yale's historic missionary impulse from Dwight Hall and his desire to 
prepare men for foreign missions activity brought him to the 
D. William James Professorship of Missions ("and Oriental History," 
added in 1927). 18 He occupied that post until he gained emeritus 
status in 1953. 

Those years at Yale were marked by tremendous academic and 
practical progress. Reflecting upon his early Yale days, he com- 
mented that "I taught the history of the Far East ... for many years I 
was giving practically all the work offered at Yale on the Far East." 19 
At Yale he pioneered studies in the relationship of Christianity to 
international relations, as well as the Ecumenical Movement. 20 In 
addition to classroom labors, he continued an avalanche of literary 
output — "Each day he wrote 1000 words and regularly made up any 
arrears." 21 To the works that made him a pioneer in the study of East 
Asia were added The History of Christian Missions in China (1929), a 
work which has remained unrivaled in its field, and The Chinese: 
Their History and Culture (1934), a two-volume standard work. The 
work for which he is now most famous and which has become the 
major work on the history of missions is his seven-volume study of 
The History of the Expansion of Christianity (1937-1945). Numerous 
other books came from his pen. Some of these were: History of 

15 Ibid., 54. 

16 Latourette, "My Guided Life," 290. 
17 Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 61. 
18 Hogg, "The Legacy," 74. 
"Latourette, "My Guided Life," 291. 
20 Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 94. 
21 Hogg, "The Legacy," 77. 


Christianity (1953) and the five-volume Christianity in a Revolu- 
tionary Age: A History of Christianity in the Nineteenth and Twen- 
tieth Centuries (1958-1962). 

While he was preeminently a historian, he was also one of this 
century's most ardent supporters of the ecumenical movement within 
Protestantism — a movement the foundations of which he saw as 
stemming from the modern missionary movement. To edge the 
ecumenical movement forward, he became a charter member of the 
editorial staff of The International Review of Missions; for over 
thirty years he served on the International Missionary Council and 
actively participated in drafting the charter of the World Council of 
Churches as the official representative of his denomination at Utrecht 
in May, 1938. 22 He did much to foster Catholic-Protestant dialogue, 
being, in 1953, "the only Protestant participant in an American 
consultation on the foreign mission work of the Roman Catholic 
Church." 23 William Richey Hogg, Professor of World Christianity at 
Perkins Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, quickly notes that "an 
ecumenical perspective shaped all his writings. His global view and 
balanced appreciative openness toward each segment of the World 
Christian community became the hallmark of his writing." 24 

It is not at all surprising that his contributions to religious and 
intellectual academia would solicit widespread attention. For his 
contribution of writing on China, the Chinese government awarded 
him the Order of Jade in 1938. His peers honored him as president of 
both the Society of Church History in 1945 and the American 
Historical Association in 1949. In addition, he served as president of 
the Japan International Christian University Foundation, chairman 
of the Student Volunteer Movement, president of the American 
Baptist Foreign Mission Society, and president of the American 
Baptist Convention (1951-1952). In a somewhat reflective mood he 
confided that "at the height of my folly, I was serving on thirty-three 
boards and committees in New York and New Haven, including four 
mission boards." 25 In 1949 Yale honored him by raising him to the 
status of outstanding service, that is, to the rank of a Sterling 
Professorship. 26 Latourette was awarded fourteen honorary doctorates 
from such institutions as the universities of Wales, Oxford, Glasgow, 
and Marburg. 27 

Wood, "Kenneth Scott Latourette," 12. 

3 LeRoy Moore, Jr., review of Beyond the Ranges, by Kenneth Scott Latourette, 
in The Hartford Quarterly 8 (1968) 82. 
24 Hogg, "The Legacy," 77. 
"Winter, "The Reluctant Missionary," 5. 
"Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 95. 
"Latourette, "My Guided Life," 292. 


In 1953 Latourette commenced his "retirement" years by return- 
ing to Oregon City, Oregon, yet continued an active writing and 
traveling career. His years suddenly jolted to an abrupt halt in 1968 
under the wheels of a hit-and-run automobile in front of his home. 

Latourette was many things: a historian who believed one could 
write history objectively, an ordained Baptist clergyman of a pietistic, 
warmly evangelical spirit, and a trail blazer of both Far Eastern 
studies and global religious ecumenism. He was a man who heard a 
whisper "as bad as conscience" to "go and look beyond the ranges." 
There he labored to forge a new idea of the structure and meaning of 
history and sought to propound that concept through his writings. 


The definition of meaning in history 

Latourette 's pursuit of "the whisper" which to him was "as 
bad as conscience" cannot be presuppositionally divorced from either 
his pietistic missionary impulse or the influence of his only teacher in 
Church History, Williston Walker. From Walker he gained a defini- 
tion of church history in particular and a method of history in 
general. Church history was conceived to be a blend of pietistic 
experientialism and futuristic eschatology — that is, a "divinely guided 
process and one moving forward to a larger realization of the 
kingdom of God." 28 As a trained, critical historian, he learned to 
respect data and to prize "objectivity." For him that seemed to mean 
dispassionate impartiality with facts and balanced judgment with 
generalization. Yet he recognized that pure objectivity is an elusive 
phantom and that the very selection of data involves nonobjective 
factors. Thus, in each preface he indicated the Christian "bias" in his 
value frame. 29 Meaning-in-history is found within the matrix of 
Christianity, a Christianity that is discernible by the critical mind of 
the historian within a global world view. Latourette confesses the 
need for this universalist interpretation of history when he writes that 

28 Roland H. Bainton, Yale and the Ministry (New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1957) 235. 

Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: A History of 
Christianity in the 19th and 20th Centuries, vol. 1: The 19th Century in Europe: 
Background and the Roman Catholic Phase (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969) xii-xiii; 
Latourette, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper & Row, 1953) xx-xxi; 
Latourette, History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. 1 : The First Five Centuries 
to a.d. 500 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970) xiii; Latourette, Christianity Through 
the Ages (New York: Harper & Row, 1965) xii-xiii. 


The usual introductory and supposedly comprehensive courses in the 
subject and the available texts majored in Western Europe and the 
centuries through the Reformation. They gave the impression that all 
since the Reformation was a kind of curtain call, that Christianity was 
fading out of the human scene, and that it never had been very 
important except in Western Europe, a region which was only a small 
fraction of the civilized world. I had repeatedly said of secular his- 
torians that with their oblivion to East Asia that they were not aware 
that the world is round. Latterly historians and history departments 
were becoming less provincial. However, church historians, so it seemed 
to me, were even more peer-blind and with less excuse, for if the 
Gospel is for all men, church history must be seen in the context of the 
entire globe. Moreover, I was, and am convinced, that never has 
Christianity so entered into the life of the entire race as it has in the 
past half-century. With that conviction I undertook a survey which 
would cover the entire story — all aspects, all branches of Christianity, 
and the entire globe. 30 

In general, Latourette's concept of history can be characterized 
as religious, progressive, global, optimistic, and critical. His primary 
interest was not the church's internal history, rather it was the 
external history of Christianity — the effect of the church upon its 
environment and the effect of the environment upon the church and 
the world-wide expansion of Christianity in world history. 31 

Latourette's idea of meaning in and out of history finds its 
structure within Christianity generally and particularly in the person 
of Jesus Christ. He adopts the rubric of divine sovereignty in the 
human sphere and an eschatological kingdom-hope. "Ultimately God 
will triumph. History moves toward a culmination. Whether within 
or beyond time God's will is to be accomplished and His full 
sovereignty will be seen to have prevailed." 32 The purpose of God in 
history is not so much doxological as it is anthropocentric and 
soteriological; history is the story of a sovereign God seeking the 
obedience of the race. This rudimentary presupposition caused him to 
state that 

The course of history is God's search for man. God is judge, but He 
judges man that He may save him and transform him. God's grace, the 
love which man does not deserve and cannot earn, respects man's free 

30 Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 114-15. 
31 Wood, "Kenneth Scott Latourette," 10. 

32 Kenneth Scott Latourette, "The Christian Understanding of History," in God, 
History and Historians, ed. C. T. Mclntire (New York: Oxford University, 1977) 52. 


will and endeavors to reach man through the incarnation, the cross, 
and the Holy Spirit. Here, to the Christian, is the meaning of history 
and its unifying core." 

The meaning of history then is found in Jesus Christ as the 
revelation of God's will and purpose for mankind. Ultimately all 
meaning in history finds focus in him. "No fact of history is more 
amazing than the spread of the influence of Jesus." 34 The ever- 
widening popularity of Jesus is the key to understanding history. 
While Christianity has varied from age to age, from country to 
country, and even from individual to individual, all the forms which 
Christianity has taken have honored Jesus. From Jesus, through 
Christianity, have issued impulses or pulsations which have helped to 
shape every phase of civilization. Latourette declares that "Jesus is 
the most influencial life ever lived on this planet. The influence 
appears to be mounting. It does not increase evenly but by pulsations 
of advance, retreat, and advance." 35 According to Latourette, history 
finds meaning in man's reception of God's love as evidenced in Jesus. 
Response to Jesus has not been uniform, but generally has had a 
series of advances, retreats, and advances. 

The basis of meaning in history 

At this point, it is most logical to propose the issue of the criteria 
for judging the pulsating waves of Jesus' influence. Latourette's reply 
would be three-fold: first, the geographical extent of Christianity; 
second, the "vitality" or quality of commitment of those called 
Christians; and third, the influence of Christianity upon the human 
race. 36 Only the first of these is strictly measurable, while the second 
and third would seem to be much more difficult to apply. However, 
Latourette defines even these in ways that make him a tireless 
chronicler of facts and statistics. He assumes that larger numbers of 
Christians mean more Christians of strong commitment and that 
expansion implies increasing influence. These are the criteria that 
enable him to exult on a favorite theme, "I was and am convinced 

"Ibid., 54. 

"Latourette, The Unquenchable Light (London: Religious Book Club, 1945) x. 

35 Latourette, "The Christian Understanding of History," 61. 

36 Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, vol. 5: The 20th Century 
Outside Europe, The Americas, The Pacific, Asia, and Africa: The Emerging Rural 
Christian Community, 534. 


that never has Christianity so entered into the life of the entire race as 
it has in the past four centuries and especially in the past half- 
century." 37 

The structure of Latourette's scheme of meaning in history, as a 
result of the application of the three-fold criteria, can be represented 
as something of an incoming tide. Each major wave has been 
followed by a major recession. However, his progressivism is most 
apparent when he writes that "each major wave has set a new high- 
water mark and each major recession has been less pronounced than 
its predecessor." 38 With this general rubric, Latourette applied the 
criteria of the influence of Jesus as derived essentially by statistical 
analysis and pietistic warmth to structure an outline of history that 
moves ever forward to a final era of a Utopian, universal manifesta- 
tion of Jesus in the affairs of men. 

The structure of meaning in history 

As a result of the combination of a methodology derived from 
historical science and Christian belief, he felt that the mind is opened 
towards a true understanding of Jesus. 39 Using his three criteria, he 
divided the history of Christianity into a series of ebbs and flows: the 
period from the time of Christ to a.d. 500 was one of the initial 
advances in which Christianity triumphed in the Roman Empire; 
from 500-950 the first and greatest recession was occasioned by pagan 
destruction in Europe and the invasion of the Crescent into the 
entirety of Northern Africa and Spain; from 950-1350 Christianity 
surged forward, and the influence of Jesus spread in the prominence 
and dominance of various Roman pontiffs; from 1350-1500 the 
prestige of Rome sank and with it the authority of Jesus; from 1 500- 
1750 the Reformation era pushed the church forward; from 1750- 
1815 the Enlightenment caused disaffection; from 1815-1914 the 
fourth age of advance, "the great century of the church," and from 
1914 to the present has been a period of "advance through storm." 40 

Latourette was a child of the religious utopianism of the late 
nineteenth century; from this century with its blatant, unabashed 
optimism he accepted the doctrine of progress. He was particularly 
adamant that the present century is one of advance, which is out of 
congruity with his advance-recession pattern; his optimism rebelled 
against any notion of a present post-Christian era. He positively 

"Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 114. 

"Latourette, The Unquenchable Light, x. 

"Latourette, A History of Christianity, xxi. 

40 Latourette, The Unquenchable Light, xvi-xvii. 


concludes that "when the entire world is taken into consideration, 
Christianity is seen to have augmented its influence upon mankind." 41 
Instead of accepting the concept of a post-Christian era, Latourette 
believed in a "pre-Christian era," that is, that Christianity is only in 
its youth. 42 "What the future has in store we cannot know. But if 
mankind does not commit suicide through nuclear arms, the evidence 
should lead us to characterize the current era not as post-Christian 
but as pre-Christian." 43 Christianity is conceived as a recent phenome- 
non; it is gaining in momentum and has seen its widest extension in 
the past century and a half. In spite of palpable weaknesses, it is 
displaying great vigor. 44 This "amazing vigor" is a recurrent theme for 
Latourette, as evidenced when he writes that 

Yet when viewed from the standpoint of the centuries its course is 
forward. The record of the past gives ground for confident hope that to 
Christianity belongs the future. It was through faithful souls who in 
adverse days refused to despair, but had visions to venture in new areas 
and resolution to hold on in regions in which faith was threatened that 
Christianity went on. Some even turned defeat into victory. So it is 
proving in our day. So, we believe, it will be in the centuries to come. 45 

Latourette is willing to concede the death of culture in the West but 
understands that Christianity always survives such demises. He in- 
forms us that "not only, phoenixlike, does it come out of the fire with 
renewed life, but it also plays a larger and larger part in the affairs of 
men." 46 The apparent recessions of our present century are but 
harbingers of a fresh age of advance. 

It is most logical to pose to Latourette's idea of progression in 
history this question: What is the specific future of this relatively 
nascent movement that perpetuates the influence of Jesus over the 
cosmos? At the initial confrontation with the question, the historian 
in Latourette is quick to grasp the lack of concrete facts ("prophecy is 
notoriously fallible" 47 ), but he does have a reply. That reply is in the 

41 Ibid., 123. 

42 Latourette, The Christian Outlook (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948) 1. 

43 Latourette, "Do We Live in a Post-Christian Age?" Religion in Life 33 
(1964) 179. 

■"Latourette, "A Historian Looks Ahead; The Future of Christianity in the Light 
of Its Past," CH 15 (1946) 15. 

45 Latourette, "Recessions in the Tide of Christian Advance," International Review 
of Missions 31 (1942) 274. 

46 Latourette, The Christian Outlook, 43. 

47 Latourette, "A Historian Looks Ahead," 3. 


form of deductions from the assumed historical pattern that Chris- 
tianity has evidenced. "The historian ought not to attempt to predict 
the final outcome. However, he can reasonably venture some general- 
izations." 48 Latourette conveys his optimism and pietism into his 
futuristic comments and sees Christianity triumphing in the affairs of 
men and the final demise of the planet. The mature form of Chris- 
tianity is uncertain to him, but he feels certain that it would reflect 
some form that we currently have (i.e., Roman Catholic, Eastern 
Orthodox, Anglican). 49 Also, he maintains that Christianity in the 
future will evidence the advance-recession motif of the past. 

It would appear that Christianity, with long centuries, probably millen- 
niums, ahead of it, will progressively bring mankind into obedience. 
Crises will be encountered. Losses will be experienced. Yet recessions 
will be followed by fresh advances. The general direction will be 
onward. 50 

His Utopian expectations for the future are not absolutely perfection- 
istic in that "mankind will never fully attain to the standards of the 
Sermon on the Mount," yet he expects larger approximations indi- 
vidually, societally, and ecclesiastically. The end of man's existence 
on this planet is certain with or without the fullest evidence of the 
influence of Jesus. Of this eventual demise he notes that 

Sometime the world will end . . . that may come by a sudden 
catastrophe, and perhaps fairly soon. ... It may be by the slow loss of 
air and water. Adverse climactic conditions or an alteration in the 
atmosphere may gradually work such untoward conditions that man- 
kind will no longer be able to maintain itself. This is the trend of 
prophecy from modern science. Or mankind may destroy itself out of 
its own folly. But sooner or later humankind will no longer find a 
home in this planet. 51 

That "whisper as bad as conscience" drew Latourette into a 
systematic reconstruction of Christian historiography. His was a 
whisper that led to familiar paths "beyond the ranges" presupposi- 
tionally, yet never so cogently argued by the combination of the 
rigors of accepted historical research and an unmistakable Christian 
consensus. For Latourette, the paths "beyond the ranges" led to a 
cultural, progressive, pietistic interpretation of history, a construction 
that deeply reflects his religious heritage, the religious optimism of his 

8 Ibid., 16. 

'Latourette, The Christian Outlook, 16. 

°Ibid., 186. 

'Ibid., 198. 


era, and his graduate training. The paths beyond led, for Latourette 
and those who followed him, to a triumphant religious hope that was 
grounded in history. 


The "whisper as bad as conscience" brought the scholarly pietist 
"beyond the ranges" and to a reconstruction of the seeming dichot- 
omy between "world history" and "salvation history" that attempted 
to blur the two opposites into a harmonious whole. The "path" 
beyond the presuppositionalism of Augustinian historiography has, 
however, not been without its critics. Indeed, since Latourette pur- 
posed to merge secular and religious history into one cogent, holistic 
motif, criticism has been heaped upon him from two quarters: secular 
historians and theologians. When he set forth the foundational 
principles of his idea and system of meaning in history as president of 
the American Historical Association in 1949 under the rubric of "A 
Christian Understanding of History," the response was often barbed. 
Latourette publicly confided, "By the grapevine I heard that many of 
my auditors were disgusted. Some said that if they wanted to hear a 
talk on the subject they would go to church." 52 Elsewhere in rehearsing 
his life and the response to the AHA address, he must have been 
impressed by the negative reaction, for he repeats the same theme 
("My presidential address was on the subject, 'The Christian Under- 
standing of History,' which some of the hearers didn't enjoy"). 53 
Secularists and religionists alike cast intellectual, philosophical and 
theological stumbling stones in the optimistic primrose paths of his 
research "beyond the ranges." 

The criticism of theologians 

Theologians have questioned Latourette's definition of Chris- 
tianity in that some understand that he divorces it from theological 
content; that is, his definition of Christianity is so cultural and 
environmental that it despairs of being Christian. J. S. Whale, 
Professor of History at Cheshunt College, Cambridge, England, 
exclaimed emphatically, "What is the distinctive nature of this Chris- 
tian Faith which has run like fire through the stubble and bids for 
nothing less than the whole world?" 54 Searle Bates, formerly Profes- 
sor of History at Nanking University, China, argues perceptively 

"Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 115. 

"Latourette, "My Guided Life," 292. 

S4 J. S. Whale, review of A History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. 7: 
Advance through Storm, A.D. 1914 and After, with Concluding Generalizations, by 
Kenneth Scott Latourette, in International Review of Missions 34 (1945) 429. 


when he criticizes Latourette thusly: "We must remind ourselves that 
Latourette's very concept of Christianity in history is not 'The Faith,' 
but an entity much more human, much more comprehensive — even to 
the margins of dualism — than the doctrine of some Christians who 
are revolted by it." 55 That is, Latourette's definition of Christianity 
appears to be more inspired by the subjective notion of the ever- 
penetrating "influence of Jesus" than a theological perception of "the 
faith." He holds to a Christianity that is distinct from the message of 
Christianity. Christianity is a cultural and social relativity that lacks a 
static, definitive, restricted core or kerygma. This becomes poignantly 
evident when he informs his readers that 

Christianity is a religion. Like other religions, as we see in the churches 
it has strong admixtures of human elements. Some of these contradict 
the gospel. . . . The history of Christianity is in large part the record of 
the love of God operating in various ways, conditioned by cultural 
inheritance and present forces, many of them antagonistic. 56 

What is the core of Christianity to Latourette? This he defines as the 
ethical principles of the Sermon on the Mount with its "standards at 
once alluring and impossible of full attainment within the bounds of 
time." 57 He adds immediately that Christianity is far more than a set 
of ethical principles, but "one puts down his final volume (History of 
Expansion, vol. 7) with the uneasy feeling that this explicit concession 
to the tremendous assertions of Creeds and Confessions, of the 
Epistle to the Romans is hardly born out by the implicit presupposi- 
tion of the whole work." 58 Latourette's definition of Christianity is 
criticized as far too generalistic for the theologian; a dichotomy 
between the Gospel and Christianity appears nauseously secular. He 
finds the Gospel intrinsically in the NT, but not in Christianity. 59 
Some have felt that such a dichotomy is both unnecessary and 
destructive. It is simply argued that Latourette unwisely "saw the 
history of Christianity, not as primarily institutional or theological 
history, but as an empirical movement in history," 60 much to the 
detriment of the genius of Christianity. 

"The historian of Christianity," says LeRoy Moore, Jr., Profes- 
sor of Church History at the Hartford Theological Foundation, 

"Searle Bates, "Christian Historian, Doer of Christian History. In Memory of 
Kenneth Scott Latourette 1884-1968," International Review of Missions 58 (1969) 325. 

"Kenneth Scott Latourette, Challenge and Conformity (New York: Harper & 
Brothers, 1955) 22-23. 

"Latourette, Advance through Storm, 499. 

58 Whale, review of Advance through Storm, 429. 

"Latourette, Advance through Storm, 499. 

60 Wood, "Kenneth Scott Latourette," 10. 


Hartford, Connecticut, "who tries to avoid being a theologian be- 
comes by his own default only an irresponsible theologian." 61 The 
path "beyond the ranges" may have been occasioned by a minutely 
audible whisper, but the echo of criticism of Latourette's journey 
screams back with the charge of theological ineptitude. Even a deeply 
committed friend such as Ralph D. Winter, Professor of Missions at 
the School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasa- 
dena, California, is forced to confess, "Here is one tangible gap in his 
credentials: he did not undergo the customary orientation of seminary 
theological studies." 62 Latourette never took a theological degree (his 
M.A. and Ph.D. at Yale were in history); in fact, he never took a 
single course at Yale in theology or biblical studies and only one in 
church history (Williston Walker's survey). Hogg simply states the 
echoing point that 

Latourette was not a theologian and never thought of himself as being 
one. He had read the classics — Athanasius, Augustine especially, some 
of Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin — and also Temple, John and Donald 
Bailie, and some of Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann. Yet his mind was 
that of the fact-gathering historian whose data yield patterns and 
enable generalizations — not that of the theologian. 63 

When he did finally decide to produce his "comprehensive" History 
of Christianity, which appeared just as he retired from Yale, he 
audited colleague Robert Calhoun's course on the history of doctrine 
prior to the Reformation and did much additional reading on his own 
as well. 64 "The most that can be said," writes Moore, "is that this 
cram-course tactic gave Latourette the objectivist historian a good bit 
more data, which is ably presented in the pages of the History, but it 
did not enable him to pass the examination." 65 That is, if one is 
convinced that church history is inseparable from the story of doc- 
trinal development, indeed that this development is its guiding her- 
meneutic, and the story of the church in time is always an account of 
the attempts and failures on the part of the church to unite theory 
(doctrine) and practice (worship and missions), then Latourette is 

Latourette's approach to history arises from two primary sources: 
first, his historical studies at Yale in a Von Ranke approach, particu- 
larly history as an objective, documentary, statistical, analytical 

'Moore, review of Beyond the Ranges, 90. 
2 Winter, "The Reluctant Missionary," 5. 
3 Hogg, "The Legacy," 75. 
4 Latourette, Beyond the Ranges, 115. 
5 Moore, review of Beyond the Ranges, 90. 


discipline; second, his pietistic, subjective, evangelical heritage which 
is evidenced in an experiential, pragmatic, nose-counting kind of 
religion. The pietist approach to church history focuses more on 
practice than on theory, on religion more than doctrine. Thus, his 
history is an account of human response. The pietist historian is 
concerned primarily with the intangible rather than the tangible. And 
this is where he gets into a bind. The best he can do is redefine 
Christianity and reduce his approach to statistical analysis. Hence, we 
have Latourette the historian hugging-and-chalking his way around 
the world, counting every gain, noting every loss, writing A History 
of the Expansion of Christianity. Hogg, who did doctoral studies 
under Latourette, co-authored several works and married into his 
family, most adequately summarizes the theologian's tension with 
Latourette's method: 

The Christian historian of Christianity or of the church must be skilled 
in the methods of his craft but must also be responsibly knowledgeable 
in theology, for the latter shapes data-selection and interpretation. 
Precisely here his critics judged him weak. Reinhold Niebuhr referred 
to him as a layman in theology, a label widely repeated. 66 

The criticism of historians 

The stones of criticism that hobble Latourette's path "beyond the 
ranges" fall into two general categories: theological and historical. 
The former questions Latourette's prowess and credentials to write 
the history of a religious movement, while the latter criticism focuses 
upon the use of the sources and the structure or shape that he creates 
from his data. Some critics have fundamentally questioned his "wave 
metaphor" of history as a succession of tides. Such a presentation of 
Christianity in terms of extension, advance and increase is "con- 
demned as tainted with the doctrine of evolution, a non-biblical 
concept of progress; and as contrary to fact in the experience of 
twentieth century Europe." 67 Hogg is quick to comply that "some 
have scorned it and profess to see in it the optimism of evolutionary 
progress. They dismiss it as naive." 68 

Somewhat parallel to the reaction toward the wave theory is also 
the evaluation of Latourette's chronological divisions of advance and 
recession. Ernest A. Payne, a former professor at Regent's Park 
College, Oxford, England, and General Secretary of the Baptist 
Union of Great Britain and Ireland, comments: "One cannot escape 

s Hogg, "The Legacy," 76. 

7 Bates, "Christian Historian," 322. 

8 Hogg, "The Legacy," 78. 


the feeling that Dr. Latourette finds his diminishing periods of 
recession a little too neatly and easily." 69 Any metaphor applied to 
history must be most cautiously used, and it must be made clear 
whether it is intended as a judgment on the meaning or lack of 
meaning of the historical process as such, or simply as an aid to the 
better understanding of a certain group of observed phenomena. 
There is always danger of a metaphor once adopted being master 
instead of servant. This fallacy of servant becoming master is most 
evident in his evaluation of the present century. At this point his 
presuppositions force him to reject his artificial wave metaphor 
because it calls for a recession which he cannot vocationally accept. 
Latourette's linear theory seems artificially imposed even upon "sal- 
vation history," and that appears to be an ever deeper travesty when 
viewed from "secular history." The sixteenth century appears to have 
evidenced more of the "influence of Jesus" than the so-called "Great 

Perhaps a minor point of criticism and yet quite integral to 
Latourette's criteria for the determining of the "influence of Jesus" is 
the yardstick of Christian vitality. Some assert that he over- evaluates 
the social success of Christianity. F. Ernest Stoeffler, Professor of 
Church History in the School of Theology of Temple University, 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, notes: "Many of us would not care to be 
quite as optimistic about the social achievements of Christianity as is 
Dr. Latourette." 70 Scholars have seriously questioned whether Chris- 
tian influence can explain such movements as the promotion of anti- 
slavery, the League of Nations, democracy, socialism, the Red Cross, 
and numerous schools and hospitals or such personalities as Sun Yat 
Sen and Ghandi. 71 Reinhold Niebuhr, famed American theologian 
and professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York, calls such 
evidence "rather irrelevant" and "highly problematic." 72 He is frank 
to add that 

In most of the achievements which Professor Latourette enumerates, 
secular idealism co-operated with more distinctively Christian idealism 
in bringing them about. . . . One therefore feels it a little pretentious to 
assert that "It is through lives made radiant through Christ that these 
movements began." 73 

Ernest A. Payne, "The Modern Expansion of the Church: Some Reflections on 
Dr. Latourette's Conclusions," JTS 47 (1946) 151. 

70 F. Ernest Stoeffler, "Christ the Hope of the World," Religion in Life 3 (1954) 349. 

71 William A. Speck, "Kenneth Scott Latourette's Vocation as Christian Historian," 
Christian Scholar's Review 44 (1945) 292. 

"Reinhold Niebuhr, "Christ the Hope of the World," Religion in Life 3 (1954) 335. 

73 Ibid., 335-36. 


The most frequent criticism of Latourette's pulsating linear 
philosophy of history is his optimistic evaluation of the present 
century. The phrase "post-Christian era" troubled Latourette, because 
to understand a diminishing influence of Jesus would destroy his 
optimistic, progressive view of history. It is as though he presupposi- 
tionally erected a philosophy of history and then applied the histori- 
cal method to buttress his conclusions. If this present era is post- 
Christian, a flaw emerges in the scheme that is fatal. Winthrop S. 
Hudson, Professor of Church History at the Colgate-Rochester Theo- 
logical Seminary, Rochester, New York, bluntly states: "Christianity, 
he asserts, is neither a waning force nor a dying faith. This is the 
thesis which he seeks to defend as an historian, but it is actually a 
thesis that can be defended only by a man of faith." 74 

Moore sounds a distressing toll of the proverbial bell when he 
adds, "(although) this assessment is in some respects undoubtedly 
true (it) is small comfort in a world seemingly gone mad with the 
craze of power and perpetually teetering on the brink of disaster." 75 
It would seem self-evident that Latourette's wave theory for the 
twentieth century breaks down because the losses since 1914 that have 
been occasioned by the spread of Communism, the rise of nationalism 
in former colonial areas, the pervasive attraction of secular liberalism, 
and the impact of technological developments are scarcely counter- 
balanced by any striking parallel gains for the Christian faith. With 
Niebuhr it must be said that to claim that the church is becoming 
increasingly potent in our day is "certainly open to doubt." 76 Payne 

Are Dr. Latourette's views but wishful thinking, a sad blindness to the 
widespread apostasies and uncertainties of our time and the sharp 
challenges to the churches by other missionary ideologies? Is it possible 
that Dr. Latourette's judgment on the contemporary scene is the result 
of his location on the American continent where church statistics still 
show an upward trend? May not his American background account for 
his optimism? 77 

Payne further argues that Latourette's view is "ludicrous" in that 
Christianity is losing its grip on the race, if it ever enjoyed such a 
privilege, both intellectually and morally. 78 

74 Winthrop S. Hudson, review of Christianity in the Revolutionary Age, vol. 1: 
The Nineteenth Century in Europe: Background and the Roman Catholic Phase, by 
Kenneth Scott Latourette, in J BR 27 (1959) 248. 

75 Moore, review of Beyond the Ranges, 93. 

76 Niebuhr, "Christ the Hope of the World," 336. 

77 Payne, "The Modern Expansion of the Church," 149. 

78 Ibid., 148. 


Latourette is further faulted by theologians in that his escha- 
tology is not that of the Judeo-Christian heritage. The most stinging 
criticism at this point comes from Whale, who charged Latourette 
with advocating an idealism "not essentially different from the Na- 
zisms and Marxisms of our time, in spite of the mere facade of 
Scriptural phrases behind which it innocently hides itself." 79 The NT 
argues for a cataclysmic, divine advent inaugurating a kingdom, not 
one of evolutionary perfectionism which dreams of a Utopia achieved 
by human effort within the time process. Moore remarks, "There is, I 
think, considerable justification for Whale's rather devastating criti- 
cism." 80 Stoeffler agrees at this point by saying: 

Perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of Christian humanism as 
related to the interpretation of history is to be found in the fact that it 
seeks the end in the process. On the theological level this conviction is 
generally expressed by the conception of the kingdom of God as a kind 
of glorified democracy which we are in the process of establishing. 81 


It may be readily conceived that the path "beyond the ranges" 
has been threatened by the omnibus forboding clouds of doubt, that 
somehow Latourette's "whisper as bad as conscience" has become 
some kind of diabolical sneer. If the path beyond the ranges is strewn 
with the wreck of straw men and half-truths, it should not blur one's 
vision of the massive pioneering labors of Kenneth Scott Latourette. 
He presented the first global, non-provincial history of Christianity, 
delivering the study of history from being primarily "Western." 82 His 
massive volumes have become standards in the field of mission 
history; indeed, the Public Orator of Oxford University referred to 
his seven-volume history of the expansion of Christianity as "a seven- 
fold shield against the bolts of ignorance." Latourette, as a tireless 
chronicler of facts, pushed Christian historiography beyond the estab- 
lished myopic perimeters and pioneered a new conception of that 
history. His work informed a generation of church scholars wearied 
by global holocausts that Christianity was not waning but reaching 
new heights, even if those new paths "beyond the ranges" are con- 
tested grounds. His person and accomplishment would bid the 
intrepid, restless explorer to go forth to open new vistas of knowledge 
as Rudyard Kipling urged him with the inspiring utterance: 

79 Whale, review of Advance through Storm, 429. 
80 Moore, review of Beyond the Ranges, 93. 
81 Stoeffler, "Christ the Hope of the World, 345. 
82 Hogg, "The Legacy," 76. 


Till a voice, as bad as Conscience 

rang interminable changes 
On one everlasting Whisper 

day and night repeated — so: 
Something hidden. Go and find it. 

Go and look behind the Ranges — 
Something lost behind the Ranges. 

Lost and waiting for you. Go! 

Yet, while Latourette must be recognized for his remarkable 
genius and voluminous literary output, it must be understood that his 
theory of history stands upon contested foundations. His defense of a 
visually victorious, moral church is without historic, theological 
validation; his progressivism reflects nineteenth- century historicism; 
and his Christianity is a veiled pietistic moralism. History is progress- 
ing toward its end, not in a materialic era of "Jesus consciousness," 
but in the millennial reign of the righteous king (Rev 20:1-6). There is 
great reason for optimism, not only because our redemption is nearer 
than when we first believed, but because He is progressively building 
His Church. The church will not so permeate history as to swallow it 
up, but the Christ of the church will soon be displayed as the 
sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16, 1 Thess 3:13). 
History is an upward lineal line, but in this tragic world, it is only 
perceivable to the eye of faith. 




Michael F. Stitzinger 

An examination of certain considerations in Genesis 1-3 contrib- 
utes to a proper view of a hierarchical distinction between male and 
female. Genesis I primarily emphasizes the relationship of spiritual 
equality. Genesis 2 focuses upon the positional distinction in the area 
of function. Contrary to the feminist position, several indications 
reveal that a hierarchical relationship exists prior to the fall of 
mankind. The New Testament consistently upholds this same rela- 
tionship between male and female. Genesis 3 indicates that the sexes 
reversed their respective roles with their fall into sin. An aspect of the 
curse that is subsequently placed upon the woman is Genesis 3:16b, 
which indicates that sin affected the hierarchical relationship, but did 
not disannul it. The "desire" of the woman provides a reminder to all 
women that the subordinate role still remains as her correct posture. 
As a consequence of sin, man will often abuse his headship, exercis- 
ing his "rule" harshly over the woman. Together, the first 3 chapters 
of Genesis consistently argue for a continuing hierarchical order 
between male and female. 


One of the most important subjects of our day is that of the role 
of women. Our society is in the midst of a sexual revolution. 
Increasing confusion has developed about our identities as men and 
women. A diminishing influence of the Judeo-Christian heritage, the 
rise of the feminist movement, and pressure for the Equal Rights 
Amendment have called into question traditional understandings of 
sexual roles. This has created great uncertainty in our contemporary 
situation both inside and outside of the church about what it means 


to be a man or a woman. 1 As John Davis observes, "The proper roles 
of men and women in marriage and family, in the church, and 
in the wider society are the subject of an ongoing debate that has 
touched us all." 2 

Under the guise of the term "evangelical," many current writers 
are advocating positions that are acceptable to the women's liberation 
movement. Individuals such as Paul Jewett, 3 Virginia Mollenkott, 4 
Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, 5 Don Williams, 6 and Patricia 
Gundry 7 have suggested similar arguments in support of egalitarian- 
ism. This understanding of Scripture provides a very real threat to the 
traditional hierarchical view of male and female. 

There is a great need for a proper understanding of the respective 
roles God has established for man and woman. This study will 
examine certain considerations in Genesis 1-3 which contribute to an 
understanding of a hierarchical distinction between male and female. 


No one denies that the apostle Paul used the creation account to 
support his claims for a subordinate position of the woman. In both 
1 Cor 11:9 and 1 Tim 2:13, Paul specifically appeals to the fact that 
Adam was created before Eve. 

Rather than accept this as a divinely inspired commentary on the 
creation order, Paul's teaching about women is viewed as a result of 
cultural conditioning and providing no application for the 20th 
century. According to the "evangelical" feminists, there is no role 

Herein lies the heart of the issue. The feminist advocates have 
taken the liberty to reconstruct the creation account of Genesis in 
order to argue for complete egalitarianism. Fellowship and equality 
are said to be the main purposes for God's creation of the male and 
female (Gen 1:26-30). Any suggestion of subordination prior to the 

'John J. Davis, "Some Reflections On Galatians 3:28, Sexual Roles, and Biblical 
Hermeneutics," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19 (1976) 201. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Paul K. Jewett, Man As Male And Female (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975). 

4 Virgjnia R. Mollenkott, "Evangelicalism: A Feminist Perspective," USQR 32 
(1970) 532-42; "The Woman's Movement Challenges The Church," Journal of Psychol- 
ogy and Theology 2 (1974) 298-310; Women, Men and the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 

5 Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be (Waco: Word, 

6 Don Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church (Glendale: G/L 
Publications, 1977). 

7 Patricia Gundry, Woman Be Free! (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977). 

stitzinger: gen 1-3 and male/ female roles 25 

fall is disregarded. For this reason, any hierarchy of relationships in 
Genesis 2 (Gen 2:15-24) is de-emphasized. Not until the perfect 
relationship of Genesis 1 was shattered in chapter 3 is there any 
suggestion of subjection. When subjection did come about, it was 
only a temporary measure that ceased with redemption. The work of 
Christ again provided the basis for complete egalitarianism. 

Individuals such as Jewett and Mollenkott have de-emphasized 
Genesis 2 in order to establish positional equality from chapter 1 as 
the standard for both chapters. The account of Genesis 1 is much 
more general and does not explain any hierarchical relationship that 
may exist between male and female. Thus, it could allow for complete 
equality between the sexes. Mollenkott states: 

I suggest that if religious leaders want to maintain any credibility with 
the younger members in their congregations, they had better shift their 
emphasis from the "Adam first, then Eve" creation story of Genesis 
Two to the simultaneous creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis One. 8 

It appears that Mollenkott assumes a contradiction between Genesis 
1 and 2 which allows her to disregard the latter. 

Jewett also holds to this view by his designation of a "partner- 
ship model," instead of the hierarchical arrangement in Genesis 2. 9 In 
this account, man and woman are understood to relate to each other 
as functional equals whose differences are mutually complementary in 
all spheres of life and human endeavor. 10 This does not parallel 
Genesis 2, however, unless the essential meaning of this latter chapter 
is altered. Jewett accomplishes this by understanding the central 
theme of chapter 2 to be that the woman's creation from man "is to 
distinguish her from the animals by implying her essential likeness" to 
the man. 11 Genesis 3, in turn, reveals the first mention of the woman's 
subordination to man as a punishment of the fall. 12 While these 
alterations result in what seems to be a fairly consistent interpretation 
of the three chapters, they do not adequately consider what is being 
stated. When the creation accounts are allowed to speak for them- 
selves, a positional distinction becomes quite clear. 

'Mollenkott, "The Woman's Movement Challenges The Church," 307; Jewett 
("Mary and the Male/ Female Relationship," Christian Century 90 [1973] 1255) states 
much the same idea: "I have come to reject this whole approach as contrary to the 
fundamental thrust of Scripture. The first creation narrative contains no hint of female 
subordination, and the second, which speaks of the creation of the woman from the 
man, does not say what it has traditionally been interpreted to mean. . . ." 

'jewett, Man As Male And Female, 14. 

,0 Ibid. 

"Ibid., 126. 

,2 Ibid., 22, 114. 


GENESIS 1:26-28 

The emphasis of Genesis 1 is altogether different from that of 
Genesis 2. A chronological method is employed to express the 
creative events as they develop — day one, day two, etc. Mankind is 
first mentioned in the account of the sixth day; "Then God said, 'Let 
us make man in our image, according to our likeness'" (Gen 1:26). 
The creation of man and woman was distinct from all that was 
created prior to them. As the crown of creation, they were to exercise 
supremacy over the cosmos. On a scale of ascending order, God 
created the highest of all his handiwork last. 13 

Genesis 1 gives only a general statement of the details surround- 
ing the creation of male and female. Both are described as though 
created simultaneously (Gen 1:26). In addition, God gave both of 
them the commands to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, 
and subdue it, and rule" over the earth (Gen 1:28). In these verses, 
two relationships are addressed: the ontological or spiritual realm as 
man relates to his Creator, and the economic or functional realm 
regarding his specific duties upon earth. 

There is also no elaboration of the functional relationship of the 
male and female in this account. Some have thus concluded that both 
male and female share equally in position with regard to the com- 
mands of responsibility. Two areas of function are evident, however. 
1) Being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth include responsibil- 
ities toward each other. 2) Subduing and ruling over the earth 
emphasize obligations with regard to the created universe. It is not 
clear from this account whether or not each was given equal status to 
exercise their responsibility. There is nothing to suggest hierarchical 
relationship, but there is also nothing to deny it. These details remain 
incomplete without the further revelation given in Genesis 2. 

Spiritual equality 

The thrust of the creation account of male and female in Genesis 1 
appears to be that they were made in the image (D^X) and likeness 
(niDT) of God (Gen 1:26-27). These terms are best regarded as 
essentially synonymous. 14 There is no distinction made between the 
male and female in this regard. For this reason, the use of the word 
"man" (DTK) is significant in these two verses. 15 DTK is here being 

13 Clarence J. Vos, Women in Old Testament Worship (Delft: Judels and Brink- 
man, 1968) 17; John Murray (Collected Writings of John Murray [Edinburgh: Banner 
Of Truth Trust, 1977], 2.5) states, "That man's creation is the last in the series, we may 
regard as correlative with this lordship." 

'"Davis, Paradise to Prison (Winona Lake: BMH, 1975) 81. 
The use of DTK is important in determining the spiritual relationship between 
God and mankind and in distinguishing between the positional roles of man and 

stitzinger: GEN 1-3 AND male/ female roles 27 

used corporately and generically of the human pair, or species. 16 As 
Jewett points out, "man" in this instance is "dual" 17 ("male," IDT, and 
"female," n3J?3, "created he them"). Both the male and the female 
comprise mankind, and in this respect they are of corresponding 
value before God (cf. Gen 5:1-2; 9:6; Matt 19:4). 

The image of God 

The image has to do with the ontological or spiritual qualities, 
namely, the communicable attributes that man and woman reflect 
from God. This is best understood as a moral, not a physical, 
likeness. The image of God is usually understood to include the will 
or freedom of choice, self-consciousness, self-transcendence, self- 
determination, rationality, moral discernment for good and evil, 
righteousness, holiness, and worship. 18 Basically, it is that which 
makes men "persons." 

The statements of Gen 1:26-27 assert that the woman is an equal 
participant with the man in respect to the image of God. The NT 
continues to uphold this doctrine of the equality of the image. 19 The 
Apostle Peter indicates that a woman must be granted "honor as a 
fellow-heir of the grace of life" (1 Pet 3:7). 

Thus far, the feminists, by an argument from silence, may be 
correct in supporting complete positional equality. However, this 
equality can only be certain to exist in the spiritual realm. There is 
simply no information in this chapter regarding the functional rela- 
tionship of man and woman. The feminists argue that the spiritual 
equality presented here is proof against a distinction in role relation- 
ships. They fail to recognize, however, that spiritual equality does not 
prohibit a distinctiveness in role relationships. 

woman. DIN is used in the first chapters of Genesis in three ways. (1) It is used 
generically to refer to man as a race, species, as mankind or humankind. In this way, 
DTK with or without the article refers to both male (*13J) and female (!"IDj?3) (cf. Gen 
1:26-27; 5:1-2 and 9:6). (2) It is a) used to refer to the individual man (tt^X), as in Gen 
2:5, 7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25; 3:9, 20; or b) to designate both the individual 
man and woman (man, $'K and woman, rntf X), as in Gen 3:22-24. The article is used 
in every case except 2:5, 20. This is used when denoting the functional realm. (3) D*7S 
is also used to designate the proper name, "Adam." This occurs in Gen 2:20; 3:17, 21; 
4:25. This usage is always without the article. 

16 G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1888), 2. 19-20. 

17 Jewett, Man As Male And Female, 39. 

'"Charles L. Feinberg, "The Image Of God," BSac 129 (1972) 246; see also Gordon 
H. Clark, "The Image Of God In Man," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 
12 (1969) 215-22; Murray, Collected Writings, 2. 3-13, 34-36. Murray also includes the 
body as part of the image. 

19 1 Cor 11:7; Gal 3:28; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24; James 3:9. 


GENESIS 2:15-24 

Further expansion of the events of the sixth day is revealed in 
Genesis 2. The new revelation given in this chapter focuses mainly on 
the functional aspect of man and woman, rather than the image. The 
account relates the duties and relationships God commanded the first 
man and woman to maintain toward each other and creation. Man 
was commanded to cultivate and keep the garden (2:15). Various 
stipulations about the eating of the fruit were given (2:16-17). He also 
named the animals, which helped to convey to him that he had no 
one like himself to help him in his tasks (2:18-20). The woman was 
created sometime after this on the same day (2:21-22). The man 
subsequently named his wife "woman" as a derivative of himself. 

It seems apparent from the development of man's purpose that a 
hierarchical relationship does exist in man's functional realm. The 
account assumes this rather than states it directly. Still, however, the 
evangelical feminists refuse to allow for anything but complete egali- 

Evangelical feminist claims 

Feminists have a unified opposition to interpreting Genesis 2 as 
teaching subordination. Gundry reflects upon this passage, stating 

The fact that Adam is spoken of in Genesis 2 as having been created 
first, . . . does not argue for his being superior in authority. . . . God 
created living things in an ascending order of complexity. If order of 
creation means anything, it would have to mean Eve was superior 
because she was last. 20 

In similar fashion, Jewett makes three fundamental claims about 
this chapter. First, he claims that to assume any type of hierarchy of 
man over woman also means that the male is superior to the female. 21 
Second, the superiority over the animals and not the woman's 
inferiority (in function) to the man is the basic thought of the 
context. 22 She is shown, by this fact, to be in the same likeness as 
Adam. Third, the fact that the woman was created after man demon- 
strates, if anything, that "woman is superior to the man." 23 His 
reasoning is that man's creation is the highest event in all the work of 

Gundry, Woman Be Freel, 23; also p. 61, "No indication of man's position of 
authority appears until after the fall." 

2l Jewett, Man As Male And Female, 14. 
"Ibid., 126. 
"ibid., 126-27. 

stitzinger: GEN 1-3 AND male/ female roles 29 

creation. He is superior to all that proceeded. The woman came after 
the man and thus, she is even higher in importance than he. He goes 
on to say that, "If men do not find this conclusion palatable let them 
ask themselves why women should stomach the rabbinic conclusion 
that the woman is inferior because created after man." 24 

Virginia Mollenkott interprets the creation account to provide 
for positional equality by the "rang technique." 25 She tries to demon- 
strate that the objective of chapter 2 is the same as that of chapter 1; 
mankind is the masterpiece of creation. By the "rang technique" she 
means that chapter 1 discloses man as the zenith of creation by a 
chronological fashion (Gen 1:26-27). Chapter 2 also demonstrates 
man to be the zenith of creation by placing his creation "in the most 
emphatic positions: the first (Gen 2:5, 7) and final (Gen 2:22). " 26 

She proceeds to emphasize the stress of chapter 2 as an equality 
in "relationship." Adam instantly recognizes Eve as different from the 
animals and exactly like himself. The development of chapter 2 
provides no basis for hierarchy whatsoever. Mollenkott is correct 
insofar that both accounts emphasize that man is the zenith of 
creation. However, her use of the "rang technique" in chapter 2 fails 
to address certain indications that support a hierarchical relationship. 

All three of these writers are guilty of neglecting contextual 
evidence within Genesis 2 itself. Chapters 1 and 2 make use of the 
important Semitic historiographical principle known as recapitula- 
tion. Genesis 1 gives a short statement summarizing the entire crea- 
tion of man. The second chapter follows with a more detailed and 
circumstantial account dealing with matters of special importance. 27 
While Genesis 2 harmonizes with Genesis 1 , it must not be expected 
to report the events identically. Moses stipulates the concept of 
equality of image in chapter 1 but presumes it in chapter 2. He 
proceeds to emphasize the function of man, and in his expansion he 
assumes a hierarchical relationship. 

Gundry and Jewett have suggested that because the woman is 
created last in Genesis 2 she may be positionally superior to the man. 

24 ibid. 

"Mollenkott, "Evangelicalism: A Feminist Perspective," 99-100. 

26 Ibid. 

7 Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody, 
1964) 1 18. "There is, however, an element of recapitulation involved, for the creation of 
the human race is related all over again (cf. Gen 2:7 and 1:26, 27). But this technique of 
recapitulation was widely practiced in ancient Semitic literature. ... To the author of 
Genesis 1, 2, the human race was obviously the crowning or climactic product of 
creation, and it was only to be expected that he would devote a more extensive 
treatment to Adam after he had placed him in his historical setting (the sixth day of 


Chronologically, it may be granted that there is an ascending order in 
chapter 1, with mankind as the zenith of creation. However, it is 
conjecture to argue that this ascending order extends into the events 
within each particular day. To assume that the events of the sixth 
day, which culminate in the creation of the woman, are chronologi- 
cally ascending in importance cannot be substantiated. 28 

Role distinctions 

There are several internal factors in Genesis 2 which suggest a 
hierarchical relationship in which the woman, by virtue of her place 
in creation and the God-ordained structure of events, is in a position 
of subordination. Hierarchy is not directly stated but is implied by 
many duties and obligations that the man exercises. It is a non 
sequitur to conclude, as Jewett has, that for the woman to be 
subordinate would be to make her inferior in value, ability, or as a 
human being. The man's headship over woman is solely a position of 
rank. The man owes this authoritative preeminence to God's appoint- 
ment rather than to personal achievement. 29 There are several indica- 
tions which point definitely and consistently to a role distinction. 

Signs of headship 

First, v 7 stipulates that man was created prior to the woman. 
Second, the man was designated as "Adam" (Gen 2:20 OT^X which 
was also the term used to describe the entire race. 30 That the man was 
given this name and not the woman suggests that he occupies the 
position as head of the relationship. Third, the events of the narrative 
reveal that Adam was invested with his position of leadership, 
responsibility, and authority prior to the creation of Eve (Gen 2:15). 
He was commanded to "cultivate" and "keep" the garden. He was 
also restricted from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and 
evil. Fourth, Adam immediately began to exercise his authority by 
naming the animals (Gen 2:10). 31 Motyer notes that, "To give a name 

28 See E. J. Young, In The Beginning (Edinburgh: Banner Of Truth Trust, 1976) 70. 

"Emma T. Healy, Woman: According To Saint Bonaventure (New York: Geor- 
gian, 1955) 14. 

30 Man is designated such by several different words. He is called DTXH — "man- 
kind," IDT— "the male," DTKH— "the man," 01X-— "Adam," and tf^X— "man." 

' T T T T T T T 

Ps 8:5-9 also substantiates the claims of man's investiture of leadership (cf. Heb 
2:6-8). While man (UH3K, Ps 8:5) most likely refers to mankind (Gen 1:26), v 7 
supports fully the leadership that man was given in Genesis 2. Adam was assigned or 
caused Oin/^&fi) to rule over the works, flocks, cattle, birds, and fish. David could 
very well have in view man's positional leadership given and exercised prior to the 
woman's creation. 

stitzinger: GEN 1-3 and male/ female roles 31 

is the prerogative of a superior, as when Adam exercised his domin- 
ion over the animals. ..." 

Fifth, Adam's leadership role is designated by his need of a 
helper (Gen 2:18, 20 — "1T57). The expression used to describe the type 
of person Adam needed is "a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18, 
20— 1^33 "ITV). The particular usage of IT 37, "helper," 33 in this 
chapter has generated considerable debate. Sixteen out of the twenty- 
one usages 34 in the Old Testament refer to God as a superior helper 
assisting the needs of man. The remaining three refer to men helping 
other men. 35 In each of the latter instances, man's help is ineffectual. 
It is unlikely that the helper referred to here (Gen 2:18, 20) is 
"corresponding to" or "suitable to" Adam in nature and ability. 

The term "helper" is generally agreed to be a designation of 
position. With this in mind, Scanzoni and Hardesty have suggested 
that the "helper" referred to is a superior, just as God is a superior 
helper to man. 36 However, this suggestion neglects the context of the 
passage. The kind of helper proposed in Genesis 2 is not a divine 
helper but a human helper. Another suggestion is that the woman 
helper is equal in rank with man. 37 In arguing for this view, Vos takes 
113133 to mean "counterpart" or "corresponding to" in position. 38 
However, in view of other contextual indications suggesting posi- 
tional superiority of the man, it cannot be argued consistently that 
"corresponding to" refers to a complete equality of position. 

The most consistent and harmonious answer is found when the 
helper proposed for man is understood as positionally subordinate in 
function to man. Until this time, all of man's help was superior. 
However, man had a specific need for a human helper. The divine 
helper supplied this need by designing for him a subordinate human 

32 J. A. Motyer, "Name," The New Bible Dictionary (ed. J. D. Douglas et al.; 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 862. 

33 BDB, 740. 

"See Gen 2:18, 20; Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26, 29; Pss 20:3; 33:20; 70:6; 89:20; 
115:9, 10, 11; 121:1, 2; 124:8; 146:4; Isa 30:5; Ezek 12:14; Dan 11:34; Hos 13:9. 

35 BDB, 617. 

36 Scanzoni and Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be, 26; George W. Knight III (The 
New Testament Teaching On The Role Relationship Of Men And Women [Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1977] 43) refutes Scanzoni and Hardesty: "This argument cannot be 
valid. Cannot a word, however, have a different nuance when applied to God than it 
does when applied to humans?" 

"Katharine E. Sakenfeld, "The Bible and Woman: Bane or Blessing?" TToday 2>2 
(1975) 224-25; Vos, Woman In Old Testament Worship, 16; Jewett, Man As Male And 
Female, 124-25. 

38 Vos, Woman in Old Testament Worship, 16. 


helper who would aid him in obeying the commands. 39 This woman, 
who was to be voluntarily submissive to man in function, would 
"correspond to" or be "suitable to him" spiritually, physically, men- 
tally, and in ability. 40 

Sixth, man's headship is unveiled when he names his wife 
"woman" (n$N — Gen 2:23). 41 Prior to this point man gave names to 
all the birds and cattle. Now the dominion that God gave to Adam 
comes to expression again as he exercises authority in designating his 
helper's name. In conjunction with this name, Adam also titles his 
wife nin in Gen 3:20, and specifies her function as "the mother of all 
living." These actions give further evidence of his authority. 

Some, such as Cassuto, do not identify any parallel between 
these texts (Gen 2:23; 3:20), but view Gen 3:20 as the beginning of 
headship. 42 Coming just after the post-fall decree in 3:16, "and he 
shall rule over thee," it evidences man's first act of rule over his wife. 
However, it seems more likely that the authority exercised here is not 
a new act, but parallels the same type of authority exerted by Adam 
when he named her "woman." 

Seventh, man's leadership is demonstrated by the fact that he is 
to leave his mother and father and cleave to his new wife (Gen 2:24). 
These acts are read by some as a point of weakness and inferiority on 
the part of the man. 43 To read this as the man's weakness, however, is 

"Although it is not mentioned in the account, it is obvious that the woman's 
physical makeup is different from that of a man. God gave her a physical constitution 
that is inherent to her role as a helper and a complement to the man. 

40 Submission must not be confused with inferiority. As a helper, Eve was equal to 
Adam in capability and value but appointed to a subordinant position by God. She 
was to voluntarily place her abilities under the man. Martha E. Rehn ("Did Paul 
Require Women to Wear Veils in the Church? An Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 
11:2-16" [M.A. Thesis, Capital Bible Seminary, 1978] 55) states, "Eve was, neverthe- 
less, created to meet Adam's needs and to assist him in his life and purpose. Her 
capabilities are not a factor in her subordinant role to man. It is by virtue of the fact 
she was added to his life that she must be submissive — because she was created to assist 
and be a companion to him." 

4I Six different words are used to refer to the woman in the first three chapters; 
DTK — "mankind," rt3J731 — "female," "ITS?— "helper," H$N— "woman," HTn — "Eve," 
and 133 — "counterpart to." 

42 U. Cassuto {A Commentary on the Book of Genesis [2 Vols.; Jerusalem: 
Magnes, 1961], 1. 170) states, "To me it seems that the elucidation is to be sought in 
the fact that the giving of a name, . . . was considered an indication of lordship. Since 
the Lord God decreed that he [the husband] should rule over her he assigns a name to 
her as a token of his rulership." 

43 Vos, Women in Old Testament Worship, 18, n. 25 states, "... it is the man who 
cleaves (dabaq) to the woman and usually with regard to persons the lesser cleaves to 
the greater (Deut 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; Josh 22:5; 23:8; Ruth 1:14; 2 Sam 20:2; 2 Kings 

stitzinger: gen 1-3 and male/ female roles 33 

to overlook the major significance of the verse. This is not Adam's 
declaration but God's pronouncement (Matt 19:4-5) instituting the 
first marriage. The proper emphasis of leaving and cleaving is not 
headship as much as it is to demonstrate the complete identification 
of one personality with the other in a community of interests and 
pursuits. This new unity of Adam with his wife is to be closer than it 
would be with a father and mother. It is important to notice that God 
addresses the man and not the woman to accomplish this activity 
(Eph 5:21). He is placing the responsibility primarily upon Adam 
(and his male descendants) as he has done thus far with other 
commands. Rather than a sign of weakness this appears to be a sign 
of leadership on Adam's part. 

The final indication of the headship of the man is found in Gen 
3:9, 11. The Lord addresses and receives a response from the man, 
who is the spokesman for the relationship. This factor suggests 
strongly, if not conclusively, that the man was the head of the 
relationship. 44 

The importance of Genesis 2 must not be underestimated. 
Revealed to man are the keys of creation order. A thorough analysis 
of its contents argues for a hierarchical relationship between the man 
and the woman. 


On several significant occasions, the NT recognizes or refers 
directly to Gen 2: 1 8ff as supporting a role distinction between the 
male and female. First, Paul asserts that man is the head (K£(paXr|) 
over the woman in 1 Cor 11:3. The meaning of "head" in v 3 is 
indicative of man's "rank" 45 over the woman rather than "source" or 
"origin." 46 His statement is not ascribing a deficiency in intellect or 
ability of the woman, but is designating her to a subordinate position 
in function. 

Paul substantiates his comments in a relationship more basic 
than the creation account, namely, the economic aspect of the 

44 Gen 3:17 could as well be used as a proof of Adam's headship. Adam is 
condemned for listening and following the voice of his wife to commit an act he knew 
was wrong. In doing so, he inverted the role of leadership that was initially established 
for him to fulfill. 

BAG, 431; Edwin Hatch and Henry A. Redpath, A Concordance to the 
Septuagint (Oxford: Clarendon, 1897), 2. 761-62; see the following: Deut 28:13, 44; 
32:42; Judg 10:18; 11:8, 9, 11; 2 Sam 22:44; 1 Kings 8:1; 21:12; 2 Kings 2:3, 5; 1 Chron 
23:24; Pss 18:43; 110:6; Isa 7:8, 9; Jer 31:7; Lam 1:5; Dan 2:38; Hab 3:13. 

46 F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians (New Century Bible; Greenwood: Attic, 1971) 
103; Colin Brown, "Head," NIDNTT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 2. 160. 


Trinity. The Son is God as the Father is God ontologically (John 
5:18-23; 10:30; 20:20). However, economically (in function) the Son's 
redemptive work involved a volitionally subordinate position or rank 
(1 Cor 15:28; John 4:24; 5:18-19). 

Further support is derived from the creation account itself. "Man 
does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed 
man was not created for the woman's sake; but woman for the man's 
sake" (1 Cor 11:8, 9; cf. 1 Tim 2:13). The time and purpose of the 
woman's creation is significant in Genesis 2. She was created as a co- 
laborer to share in the mandates of creation. From the very first, 
however, she was to participate as a subordinate in rank. 

At the same time that Paul establishes a role relationship, he is 
careful to include a caution, lest men pervert their designated leader- 
ship into spiritual superiority and functional snobbery (1 Cor 11:11). 
Spiritually, man and woman remain equal before God (cf. Gen 1:26- 
27). The Apostle may also have in mind the role distinctions mani- 
fested in various functions between the sexes. A woman can and often 
does assist men in advice, counsel, and guidance in the home, church, 
and society. However, she is never to take on the role of a leader over 
men. "In the Lord" she will retain her subordinate role as she shares 
in these responsibilities. 

A man must remember that he is not independent of the woman 
just because he is superior in rank (1 Cor 11:12). He needs her help 
even to gain existence in this life. Thus, God has established a mutual 
dependency to coincide with the headship that man continues to 
exercise over the woman. 47 

Second, the apostle makes use of the term "to be subject" 
(imoTdaoco) to describe the relationship of the female to the male 
both in and outside the context of marriage (1 Cor 14:34-35; Eph 
5:21, 22, 24; Col 3:18; 1 Tim 2:11-14; Titus 2:5). The term "to be 
subject" from the verb xdoaco, has a background in military usage, 
namely, that soldiers were appointed or placed in positions under 
others. ' Ynoxdooa) carries the meaning "to place under," "to affix 
under" or "to subordinate oneself to the control of another." 48 
However, this word in no way implies that the subordinate is an 
inferior, except in position. A woman may be superior to a man in 
ability, personality and even spirituality, but because of the divine 
order of creation, she recognizes the superior rank of the man and 
"ranks herself under man." 49 This principle is to demonstrate itself 

47 Contra Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church, 67-68; Scanzoni 
and Hardesty, All We're Meant To Be, 28-31. 

48 Gerhard Delling, "Tdooco, 67roTdaaco," TDNT 8 (1972) 39. 

49 James L. Boyer, For a World Like Ours: Studies in 1 Corinthians (Winona 
Lake: BMH, 1971) 104. 


both in the marriage relationship, and/ or outside of marriage to 
various extents. In all of these texts, Paul alludes in principle, if not 
in actuality, to the creation account to substantiate his claims. 

A final support for a role distinction is expressed in 1 Pet 3:1, 
5-7. Concurring with Paul, Peter uses the term "submission" to de- 
scribe the position of a wife toward her husband. While he does not 
refer to creation, he does use the example of Sarah's relationship to 
Abraham. It is fairly certain that her relationship to Abraham stems 
from the divine order of creation in Gen 2:18-24. Furthermore, while 
Peter discloses the wife as the "weaker vessel" in rank, he also main- 
tains that she is spiritually an equal ("fellow-heir of the grace of life," 
1 Pet 3:7). 

A significant contrast sheds light upon the role relationship of 
Abraham and Sarah and that of Adam and Eve. In Gen 3:17, Adam 
is condemned by God for "listening to" or "obeying" the voice of 
his wife (Vip 1 ? rw»tf). In Gen 21:12, Abraham is told to "listen to" 
or "obey" (iiVp? yz?tfj) the voice of Sarah. Peter indicates that Sarah 
was submissive to her husband, calling him "lord." The use of the 
verb "obey" to condemn and condone the same activity poses an 
apparent contradiction. This contrast is explained when the total 
picture is examined. 

Two different conditions are presented in these contexts. It is 
suggested that Eve received her knowledge of the command not to eat 
of the fruit through the instruction of her husband. 50 Eve's encourage- 
ment to her husband to partake of the fruit was an act of insubordi- 
nation. Furthermore, when Adam chose to eat of the fruit, he ignored 
his leadership role and followed his wife's sinful promptings. God's 
condemnation of Adam for obeying his wife is justified. It should not 
be concluded from this passage that men must reject the voice of their 
wives in all situations. 

Gen 21:12 provides a blueprint for the correct role relationship 
between husband and wife. Abraham was distressed at the thought of 
expelling Hagar and Ishmael. 51 Sarah realized the full implications of 
not expelling them, however, and thus encouraged her husband along 
these lines. When Abraham's mind would not be changed, God 
corrected him by telling him to listen to the voice of his wife. The key 
is found in that once Abraham was corrected by the Lord, he took 
the initiative to exert leadership (v 14). Unlike Adam, he did not 
ignore his role as head of the relationship and follow a court e of 

50 The account in Gen 2:16-17 indicates that man was given the prohibitions prior 
to the creation of Eve. 

51 See Harold G. Stigers, A Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1976) 184-85. 


cognizant error prompted by his wife. Sarah can thus be viewed by 
Peter as a woman who "obeyed her husband, calling him lord," yet 
provided advice in a submissive role. 

From these examples, it is rather obvious that the NT supports a 
role distinction between the male and female, a distinction which 
originates before the fall. On certain occasions, the concept is applied 
to the husband and wife relationship; on other occasions, Paul refers 
generally to the male and female. In both cases, however, a role 
relationship exists to differing extents in which the woman is instructed 
to be submissive in function to the male. 


A final claim of the feminists is that subordination for the 
woman began as a result of the fall. 52 Yet, examination of the text has 
demonstrated that subordination was established prior to the fall. 
The events of chapter 3 follow immediately after and are predicated 
upon the events of chapter 2. They reveal that man and his new 
helper reversed their hierarchical positions in their act of sin. The 
outcome was that the effect of sin corrupted the relationship between 
man's headship and woman's subordination, but did not change it. 

Woman's part in the fall 

The woman was an active participant in the fall. Her initial sin 
began when she continued to listen to the serpent, who was intention- 
ally deceptive by his communication. During the course of the 
conversation the woman was deceived (Gen 3:13). It was at this point 
that her appetites gave birth to the first sin. 

The deception of the woman is of major significance for Paul's 
NT teaching. In 2 Cor 1 1:3, Paul warns the Corinthian believers "lest 
as the serpent deceived (££r)7itiTr|aev) Eve by his craftiness" they 
would be deceived also. The use of e£ is added to dTiaxdco for 
intensity, i.e., Eve was completely deceived. Paul is stressing that Eve 
was led to believe something that was not true. She was doctrinally 
beguiled into hostility toward God and sensual desire for the un- 
known. 53 This same deception could happen to both men and women 
at Corinth. 

Paul also uses the term in 1 Tim 2:14, where he states, "It was 
not Adam who was deceived but the woman being quite deceived, fell 

"Gundry, Woman Be Free! 61: see also liberal support for this, Phyllis Trible, 
"Woman In The OT," IDPSup (1976) 965; John Skinner, Genesis (ICC; New York: 
Scribner's, 1917) 82. 

"Albrecht Oepke, "ajtaidco, e£a;taTd<o," TDNT 1 (1964) 384. 


into transgression." 54 This statement is made as a supporting argu- 
ment for the limitations given to women with regard to positions of 
leadership in the church. In contrast to Paul's appeal in 1 Corin- 
thians, the deception described in 1 Timothy could only happen to 

The apostle may have had more than one idea in mind by this 
mention of the woman's deception in 1 Tim 2:14. He may be 
suggesting that a woman's emotional faculties are different than 
man's in such a way that she is more apt to be led into a course of 
unintentional error, 55 and/ or he may be using this verse as an 
argument for what her deception precipitated, namely, a usurpation 
of her role as a helper. 

In either case, Gen 3:1-7 indicates that Eve allowed herself to 
listen to the serpent. In the course of this, she was deceived and 
subsequently sinned. She then introduced her husband to sin, who 
willfully ignored his headship and partook of the fruit. Eve's sin was 
disobedience to God, which expressed itself, in part, by a self- 
assumed position of leadership above her husband. 

Man's part in the fall 

The woman is often viewed as forcing, driving, or compelling her 
husband to eat. It is true that Adam participated in the sin because of 
his wife's offer (Gen 3:6); however, he was not forced to eat the fruit. 
The account does not reveal whether Adam was present, passively 
listening to the serpent, or if he was away at the time. V 17 declares 
that he "listened to" or "obeyed" 56 the voice of his wife prior to eating 
the fruit, which may indicate that he was not there initially. In either 
circumstance, v 17 is the key; Adam freely chose to obey the voice of 
his wife. This sin actually began at the point when he failed to 
exercise his position of leadership over his wife. 57 While Adam was 
not deceived, his action was equally as wicked as Eve's. Not until he 
sinned was the entire human race plunged into sin (Rom 5:19; 1 Cor 
15:22). The sin of the first human beings was a direct violation of 

"Using a contrast, Paul states that Adam was ouk rfaaTrjGT] (was not deceived— a 
simplex usage) while Eve k%anaxr\QEiaa (was completely deceived — intense usage). 

"John A. Bengel, Gnomon Of The New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 
1859), 4. 254. 

56 BDB, 1034: VW& with the V as in Gen 3:17 is a common idiom for "to obey." 

"Young {Genesis 3 [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1966] 130-31) takes Adam's 
forfeiture of position a step further. Not only did Adam place himself in a subordinate 
position under the woman, but "he listened to her when she was deceived by the 
serpent. Hence, Adam had abandoned his place of superiority over the creatures." 


God's command, which expressed itself, in part, by a complete 
inversion of the roles. This was a total distortion of the pattern 
established in Genesis 1 and 2. 

Some background to Genesis 3:16 

Another verse showing a positional differentiation between man 
and woman is Gen 3:16, "Yet your desire shall be for your husband, 
and he shall rule over you." Most liberals and evangelical feminists 
interpret this pronouncement as the beginning of female subordina- 
tion. Conservatives generally prefer to assume that subjection was 
intensified to the point of servitude at this point. 58 

Gen 3:16 cannot be treated in a vacuum. Much of the preceding 
context deals with the headship of the man. The first section of this 
chapter demonstrates a reversal of the roles. This will have some 
bearing on the meaning of v 16. It should also be noted that this verse 
comes in the middle of the curse section. This pronouncement is 
basically divided into 4 areas: the curse upon the serpent (3:14-15), 
the woman (3:16), the man (3:17-19), and the creation (3:17b). The 
curse placed certain alterations upon individuals, animals, and nature. 

Biologically, woman became the recipient of increased pain in 
childbirth; the snake began to crawl on his belly; all individuals 
became participants in physical death; nature received agricultural 
and other changes (Rom 8:22); and man had to compete against 
nature by toil and sweat. 

Spiritually, man and woman became depraved and alienated 
from God, shattering the perfect harmony that existed at the begin- 
ning of their marriage. In some fashion, sin impinged upon the 
hierarchical relationship as well. It is not evident from any passage 
after Gen 3:16 that the pronouncement made here canceled or 
changed the hierarchical arrangement (cf. 1 Cor 11:3-10; 14:34; 1 Tim 
2:13-14). In light of this background, a thorough examination of this 
verse provides for its proper understanding. 

Much controversy has surrounded the meaning of "desire" in 
v 16. "Desire" (n^lUfrl, from the verbal root pW) may be derived from 
the Arabic root saqa. 59 Traditionally, Saqa has had the meaning of 
"to please, delight, longing, craving, desire, arouse, yearn or desire 
ardently." 60 From this Arabic derivation, scholars usually understand 

58 Vos, Women In Old Testament Worship, 30-31; John Calvin, Commentaries on 
the First Five Books of Moses Called Genesis (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 
1843; reprinted; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 1. 172. 

59 BDB, 1003. 

60 Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Ithaca: Spoken Language 
Services, 1971) 493. 

stitzinger: gen 1-3 and male/ female roles 39 

the "desire" to contribute positively to her husband's rule. On the 
other hand, "desire" may have come from the Arabic root saqa, 61 
which means "to drive, urge on, herd, impel as one would a prisoner 
or control cattle." 62 It envisions harsh, forcible and negative treat- 
ment upon the receiver. If this is the meaning, then the "desire" of the 
woman will not contribute to the rule of her husband. 

A further complication exists with the Hebrew root (pW), 
because there are no examples in verbal form found anywhere in 
Scripture. It has been hypothetically drawn by the lexicons from the 
Arabic possibilities. Outside of Gen 3:16, there are only two other 
usages of the noun nj?iwn in the OT (Gen 4:7; Cant 7:10). Thus, the 
usage of the word must be established by the context in which it 
is found. 

Canticles 7:11. "Desire" in Cant 7:1 1 (inj^ttto is expressed by the 
bride toward her spouse. The "desire" is primarily a physical one, 63 or 
possibly a desire that is all-encompassing (sexual, mental, and emo- 
tional). The context surrounding this word argues against it being 
derived from the Arabic root saqa in the sense of "a forcible, driving, 
urging or impelling desire." The meaning here is "a more gentle, 
passionate, yearning that contributes positively to the mate." Thus, it 
corresponds with the traditional root, saqa. 

Genesis 4:7. The narrative of Gen 4:7 depicts Cain in the midst of 
a struggle with sin. The Lord said regarding his sin, "Sin is lying at 
the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." The desire 
of sin will overcome him if he does not master it. 64 

The possibilities for the root of "desire" could be related to either 
Saqa or saqa. The traditional meaning of "desire," from the root saqa, 
would indicate that sin's desire for Cain is "a passionate, longing, 
craving appetite for ownership." The emphasis of this root is "a desire 
to possess." This harmonizes with its meaning in Canticles, only here 
it is "a desire for evil." 

On the other hand, if the "desire of sin" is connected to the root 
saqa, its meaning is "to drive or impel" Cain into subjection by force. 
The emphasis of this root is in the idea of "compulsion." Yet the idea 
of a forceful, compulsive desire does not seem to be evident in the 

6I BDB, 1003; KB, 597. 

62 Wehr, Dictionary, 443. 

63 S. Craig Glickman, A Song For Lovers (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1976) 

""Master" is the word ^UfaR; literally, "you should rule." In this instance, the 
imperfect of "rule" is best understood to express "obligation"; also the modal idea of 
"potential, of taking place, or not taking place in the future" is in view. GKC, 330. 


narrative. Rather, the traditional meaning of "desire" in the sense of 
"a yearning or craving for possession" seems to be predominant. 65 

Genesis 3:16. Three worthy views have been offered to explain 
the meaning of the woman's desire in Gen 3:16. First, following the 
traditional root for "desire," the word is understood as "a passionate 
sexual desire that becomes so strong in the woman that she will never 
rid herself of the pain of childbearing." 66 

Second, some have understood "desire" to represent "a deep, 
natural attraction which a woman will have for her husband." 67 This 
yearning is to fulfill certain psychological and protective needs which 
she does not possess herself. Keil and Delitzsch suggest that this 
"desire will be so strong that it will border on disease." 68 While these 
two views of the meaning of "desire" cannot be readily denied, it is 
questionable that the desire ought to be limited to such narrow senses 
as sexual or psychological needs in view of the preceding context. 

A third view argued by Susan Foh tries to draw a linguistic 
parallel between Gen 3:16 and 4:7, affiliating both instances of the 
word "desire" with the Arabic root saqa. 69 Eve's desire was to forcibly 
drive or urge her husband in the same way sin was trying to forcibly 
drive Cain. 70 The meaning of "rule" is changed from a future indica- 
tive to the modal aspect of the prefix conjugation. Instead of "the 
husband shall rule," it is "he should rule," indicating potential rather 
than certainty. The whole statement thus reads, "Your desire shall be 
to control your husband but he must rule over you if he can." 
Making these changes, Gen 3:16 is made parallel to Gen 4:7, "Its 
(sin's) desire shall be to control you but you must rule over it if you 
can." Thus, these words in v 16 mark the beginning of the antithetical 

65 The phrase, "sin is lying at your door" has been interpreted, "sin is crouching at 
your door." The word ^31, "to lie down, lie, stretch out," is often used of animals (cf. 
Gen 29:2; Exod 23:5; Num 22:27; Isa 11:6; 27:10). In Gen 29:14 it is used of a 
crouching lion. Many have thus understood sin to be "crouching at Cain's door 
desiring to pounce upon him." This imagery of the lion is not substantiated by the 
context. However, if this symbolism is used, it upholds the traditional meaning of 
"desire." A lion's desire is for possession rather than compulsion. 

"Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments (New York: Carlton 
and Phillips, 1854), 1. 51. 

67 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1942), 2. 173; 
Davis, Paradise To Prison, 94; Vos, Women In Old Testament Worship, 24-25; David 
B. Nicholas, What's a Woman To Do . . . in the Chur ch? (Scottsdale: Good Life, 1979) 

68 C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch (reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1949), 1. 103. 

69 Foh, "What Is the Woman's Desire?" WTJ 37 (1975) 376-83. 

70 Ibid., 381-82. 


battle between the sexes. The woman's "desire" 71 will work against 
her husband. As a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he 
must fight for his headship. 

There are major difficulties with this view. The basic defect of 
this proposal is that it assumes certain conclusions about the passage 
at the expense of the context. This argument is predicated upon the 
assertion that exactly what happened in the fall became God's 
continuing pronouncement upon man. However, examination of the 
context already has established that Eve did not forcibly urge her 
husband, which this interpretation requires. On the other hand, 
neither did Adam try to rule over her. He listened to her and then 
made his own choice to participate with her in sin (Gen 3:17). 

Also arguing against Foh's suggestion is the fact that it reads a 
possible rendering of Gen 4:7 back into 3:16, just because the phrases 
are almost identical in the Hebrew. This provides a good grammatical 
parallel, but not a contextual one. 

A final major deficiency in this view is that it fails to provide for 
a consistent usage of nj?1ttfrl. Cant 7:11 will not permit the meaning 
of a forcible desire. 

A suggested solution to Genesis 3:16. The exact meaning of Gen 
3:16b continues to perplex scholars. It is not possible to come to any 
kind of a definite conclusion. The best that can be provided is an 
alternative solution. 

A suggested solution to Gen 3:16b is found in assessing the 
pronouncement made to the woman as a curse, which has its major 
emphasis in the "rule" of the man. The sense of "rule" 72 in this 
context is negative, predicting the type of abuse that man will vent 

7l The LXX rendering of nj^lttto as dTcooxpocpri in Gen 3:16 and 4:7 cannot be 
used as a positive support for this view. Instances do demonstrate that dnoaxpocpri can 
be rendered: (1) a positive sense of "turning, turning back, refuge, bend in a direction 
toward"; this would be derived from the Arabic root saqa; (2) it may also be a negative 
sense of "turning away from" as a derivative of the root saqa. The LXX rendering of 
Gen 3:16 is, "Your desire is toward your husband," (repot; tov fivSpa coo i^ drcooTpocprj 
oou). In Gen 4:7 (npoc, oe i\ d;roaTpo<pii autoO), the LXX translators interpreted this 
as a reference to Abel's "desire, toward his brother." In both instances, the preposition 
rcpoq with the accusative expresses "direction toward." ripoq may only carry the 
meaning "against" when it follows a verb of disputing or hostility, which is not the case 
in these instances; see George B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New 
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1957) 
717. The LXX translators would most likely have used fivn if they meant Gen 3:16 and 
4:7 to mean "desire that resists or works against." 

72 The word "rule" (/$£)) was already seen to have reference to man's headship 
over creation (Ps 8:2-7). Now, for the first time, this word is found in the text of 


upon his wife. He will carry his headship to domination because of 
his depraved nature. While this aspect of the curse primarily refers to 
the husband and wife, it can also refer to men and women outside of 
the context of marriage where role relationships exist. 

Almost every husband, or even most men in general, who have 
exercised leadership over women have used their position to domi- 
neer at one point or another. Paul continually reminds men not to 
"rule" over their wives in this negative fashion (Eph 5:25-30; Col 3:19; 
cf. 1 Pet 3:7-9; see also an inference concerning all men in 1 Cor 
11:11-12 as to how they should treat women). If a man is controlled 
by the Spirit, he may to some extent rise above the downward drag of 
his depravity and thus nullify the effects of this aspect of the curse. 

It is even more difficult to make a dogmatic statement concern- 
ing the woman's desire. It appears that this statement must be taken 
in conjunction with the rule of man in order to be part of the curse. 
Yet this statement must not be viewed, as it has by many, to suggest 
that "all women willingly or unwillingly shall subject all their desires 
to their husbands." 73 Nor is there any evidence to support the view 
that woman is here placed under subjection for the first time. It is 
also doubtful whether Foh's suggestion is compatible. Women often 
do battle against their husbands, but this does not serve the intent of 
Gen 3:16. 

The term "desire" is best related to the traditional root, saqa. It 
refers to "the woman's longing or yearning that she may have about 
the affairs of life." In the course of the fall, she failed to subordinate 
this desire under her husband. With this in view, the phrase, "your 
desire is to your husband," is best regarded as a statement of fact, 
reminding the first woman that the subordinate principle still remains 
in effect. However, it is not a pronouncement that all women will 
submit all their desires to their husbands. Their sin nature precludes 
that they will do this. 

Women, for the most part, have continued to perpetuate the 
subordinate relationship established prior to the fall to different 
extents. In almost every case, however, they have experienced a 
varying degree of harsh rule from men. The statement regarding the 
woman's desire is not a curse in and of itself, but it becomes one 
when it is treated in relation to the man's sinful rule. 

Young, Genesis 3, 127-28; Calvin (Commentaries on the First Book of Moses 
Called Genesis, 1. 172) states, "Thy desire shall be unto thy husband,' is of the same 
force as if he had said that she should not be free and at her own command, but subject 
to the authority of her husband and dependent upon his will; or as if he had said, 
'Thou shalt desire nothing but what thy husband wishes.'" See also Foh, "What Is The 
Woman's Desire?" 379. 


Women, by virtue of their sin nature, resist the leadership of men 
by rejecting the harsh rule pronounced in the curse, or, often, any 
positive rule as well. In either case, the NT confirms that such women 
are subordinate (1 Cor 11:2-16; 14:34-35; Eph 5:22-23; Col 3:18; 
1 Tim 2:11-14; 1 Pet 3:1-7). Depending upon the temperament of the 
man, as well as the amount of a woman's insubordination, she may 
receive more or less harsh treatment. The rule of man may not 
actually seem like a curse to those women who refuse subordination 
altogether, for they are not in a position to receive it. However, they 
potentially remain under this curse. 

The consistency of this view over other views is found in several 
factors. It provides a unified explanation of njTIUJn throughout the 
OT. It also upholds the hierarchical relationship established prior to 
the fall. At the same time, it acknowledges the effects of sin that tend 
to distort and corrupt this role relationship. This view also brings the 
meaning of Paul's commands concerning the woman's subjection and 
the man's leadership to full expression. 


The purpose of this article has been to examine the key themes 
of creation order for their contributions to role relationship. The 
evangelical feminists who promote egalitarianism emphasize Genesis 
1 as the main account describing the positional relationship between 
the sexes. 

First, it was noted that Genesis 1 is a general, chronological 
account of the events in creation. It introduces the reader to two 
realms, the spiritual and the functional. The main emphasis is placed 
upon the spiritual realm in which man and woman correspond in 
every respect. Both share equally in the image of God. 

On the other hand, Genesis 2 shifts the emphasis. When the 
details of the sixth day are unfolded, they reveal a definite positional 
distinction between man and woman. The feminists refuse to believe 
this and have provided several explanations to dilute a role distinc- 
tion. However, many indications argue for the headship of the man. 
This chapter is also the backbone for the NT's emphasis upon role 
differentiation in the church, home, and society. Paul uses this pre- 
Fall principle to support post-Fall subordination. 

Moreover, Genesis 3 does not disregard a positional distinction 
between the male and female. The events of the fall relate, among 
other considerations, that there was a sinful disregard for the head- 
ship established in the previous chapter. 

The specific meaning of Gen 3:16b becomes vital to understand- 
ing the role relationship. Several views were observed, and a sug- 
gested possibility was then presented. Gen 3:16 pronounces a curse 


upon the woman, with emphasis upon the abusive rule that man will 
exercise. The "desire" mentioned provides a reminder to the woman 
that the subordinate role still continues for her and is the correct 
position for women in every age. In and of itself, this is not a curse to 
women. However, it becomes a curse in conjunction with the man's 
sinful rule. When women do submit themselves under men, it will 
become hard, at times, because of the man's misuse of rulership. Not 
all women have placed themselves in a subordinate position to men, 
but the statement was not meant to express this. In almost every case, 
women who have subordinated themselves to men have experienced 
harsh rule in varying degrees. Gen 3:16 continues to uphold the 
creation account wherein God established the hierarchical relation- 
ship. Together, the first three chapters of Genesis consistently indicate 
that God's order for man and woman has never changed. 

ROMANS 1:18-21 


David L. Turner 

Should the Christian attempt to prove the existence of God to 
the unbeliever? Many apologists would answer in the positive, at least 
in some cases. However, Van Til says "no. " It is his view, admittedly 
developed by presupposing the truth of the Bible, that the unbeliever 
is somehow already aware, in the deep recesses of his heart, that God 
exists. Van Til develops this argument regarding the sensus deitatis 
(sense of deity) largely from Rom 1:18-21. This study seeks first to 
summarize some of the relevant features of Van Til's epistemology. 
Then a brief exegesis of relevant features of Rom 1:18-21 follows, 
with the conclusion that Van Til is mainly correct. In evangelism and 
apologetics the Christian should not attempt to prove the existence of 
God to the unbeliever. The unbeliever, if he is honest with himself, 
knows this already. The Christian should proclaim the gospel, God's 
appointed dynamic for turning the lost to himself 


Van Til's presuppositional apologetic differs radically from tradi- 
tional apologetics (whether empirical, rationalistic, or a combina- 
tion of both.) Viewing the Scriptures as self-authenticating, he assumes 
their truth. The following extended quotation well summarizes his 
basic position: 

I take what the Bible says about God and his relation to the 
universe as unquestionably true on its own authority. The Bible 
requires men to believe that he exists apart from and above the world 
and that he by his plan controls whatever takes place in the world. 
Everything in the created universe therefore displays the fact that it is 
controlled by God, that it is what it is by virtue of the place that it 


occupies in the plan of God. The objective evidence for the existence of 
God and of the comprehensive governance of the world by God is 
therefore so plain that he who runs may read. Men cannot get away 
from this evidence. They see it round about them. They see it within 
them. Their own constitution so clearly evinces the facts of God's 
creation of them and control over them that there is no man who can 
possibly escape observing it. If he is self-conscious at all he is also God- 
conscious. No matter how men may try they cannot hide from them- 
selves the fact of their own createdness. Whether men engage in 
inductive study with respect to the facts of nature about them or 
engage in analysis of their own self-consciousness they are always face 
to face with God their maker. 1 

In Van Til's view, God is the logical reference point for all 
predication. Man in Eden, created in God's image, was to think God's 
thoughts after him. Fallen man, however, suppresses his knowledge 
of God even though he still is aware of God's existence. Regenerate 
man has been given again the capacity to think God's thoughts after 
him. Thus for Van Til apologetics is largely an appeal to the image of 
God in man, which image includes an ineradicable sensus deitatis 
(sense of deity). 2 

All this, to say the least, is rejected by traditional apologists, who 
appeal primarily to man's rational capacities or to his sense percep- 
tions. Men who fit in this category believe that Van Til has begged 
the apologetic question; his defense of the faith has left the faith 
defenseless. In this view Van Til is essentially a fideist, one who 
requires men to believe in God apart from any evidence. 4 Van Til's 
response to this is in substance the claim that his position squares 
with the biblical doctrines of common grace, general revelation, and 
man's inherent yet suppressed knowledge of God. Van Til's appeal is 
then not merely to man's rational or sensory capacities, which in his 
view are seriously impaired by the fall. Instead, Van Til appeals to the 
inner sense of deity which man's fallen mind suppresses. 5 Important 

'Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (3rd ed.; Philadelphia: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1967) 195. 

2 Cornelius Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought (Philadelphia: 
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971) 6, 140, 151. 

3 Gordon R. Lewis, "Van Til and Carnell — Part I," Jerusalem and Athens (ed. 
E. R. Geehan; Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971) 359-61; and Testing 
Christianity's Truth Claims (Chicago: Moody, 1976) 144-48. 

4 Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976) 56-58. For a 
concise and cogent answer to the charges of men like Lewis and Geisler, see James M. 
Grier, Jr., "The Apologetical Value of the Self-Witness of Scripture," GTJ (1980) 71- 
76. See also John C. Whitcomb, Jr.'s, four-part series "Contemporary Apologetics and 
the Christian Faith," which appeared in BSac beginning with 134:534 (April, 1977). 

5 For a convenient outline where Van Til compares and contrasts his own position 
with that of traditional apologetics, see "My Credo," Jerusalem and Athens, 18-21. 


Scripture passages for Van Til's argument include Genesis 3, Acts 14 
and 17, 1 Corinthians 2, Ephesians 2 and 4, and especially Romans 1-2. 
As one reads the works of Van Til, however, he realizes that 
biblical exegesis is not Van Til's forte. He is usually content merely to 
quote from English versions without attention to the original lan- 
guages. 6 In reply to G. C. Berkouwer, Van Til admits this problem: 

I agree that my little book on The Sovereignty of Grace should 
have had much more exegesis in it than it has. This is a defect. The 
lack of detailed scriptural exegesis is a lack in all my writings. I have 
no excuse for this. 7 

This problem underlines the need for this study. It cannot be 
doubted that Rom 1:18-21 is a major passage for Van Til's apologetic 
method. Yet he nowhere gives a detailed exegesis of the passage. Thus 
it seems imperative for presuppositional apologetics to determine 
whether he has correctly understood this vital passage. 

This brief study centers first upon an overview of some salient 
features of Van Til's epistemology. Then some key exegetical factors 
in Rom 1:18-21 are touched upon. 


According to one source, epistemology is "the theory of knowl- 
edge . . . that branch of philosophy which is concerned with the 
nature and scope of knowledge, its presuppositions and basis, and the 
general reliability of claims to knowledge." 8 Van Til's works empha- 
size epistemology, especially his Christian Theory of Knowledge. 

Analogical thought 

Basic to Van Til's epistemology is the concept of analogical 
thought, grounded upon the distinction between God as Creator and 

6 But see "Apologetics" (syllabus, Westminster Theological Seminary, n.d.) 43-44; 
Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 of In Defense of Biblical Christianity 
(Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976) 93; Christian Theory of Knowledge 
(Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969) 245, 264, 308; and The Intellectual 
Challenge of the Gospel (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1953) 6. 

Jerusalem and Athens, 203. Van Til further states that he has been aware of 
traditional reformed exegesis and wishes he had included more of it in his writings. He 
adds that he hopes his readers will do their own exegesis. A former student of Van Til, 
Prof. James M. Grier, Jr., of Cedarville College, related that Van Til usually referred 
his students to the exegesis of his colleagues John Murray, Ned Stonehouse, and E. J. 
Young. Murray and Van Til do differ on some features of Romans 1, however, as will 
be shown later in this study. 

8 D. W. Hamlyn, "Epistemology, History of," The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. 
Paul Edwards; 8 vols.; New York Macmillan, 1967), 3. 9-10. 


man as creature. God is original, absolute, and infinite while man is 
derived, limited, and finite. Man, created in God's image, was respon- 
sible to think analogically God's thoughts after him. In this way, man 
was to interpret God's universe, with the aid of God's preinterpreta- 
tion, special revelation. To prove this concept Van Til relies upon 
Genesis 1-3 where God by special revelation interpreted the earth 
(general revelation) for man and then charged man to be submissive 
to this revelational interpretation. God's knowledge then is compre- 
hensive and analytical, while man's knowledge is limited and ana- 
logical, yet genuine. 

The system that Christians seek to obtain may ... be said to be 
analogical. . . . God has absolute self-contained system within himself. 
. . . But man, as God's creature, cannot have a replica of that system 
of God. ... He must ... in seeking to form his own system, constantly be 
subject to the authority of God's system to the extent that this system is 
revealed to him. 

For this reason all of man's interpretations in any field are subject 
to the Scriptures given him. Scripture informs us that, at the beginning 
of history, before man had sinned, he was subject to the direct 
revelation of God in all the interpretations that he would make of his 
environment. 9 

Van Til's concept of analogical knowledge occasioned a dispute 
with Gordon Clark. 10 Clark seems to hold that knowledge must be 
univocal and comprehensive in order to be genuine, and he charges 
that Van Til's system leads to skepticism since in it man cannot know 
truth but only an analogy of the truth. In response, Van Til charges 
that Clark's univocal scheme obliterates the Creator-creature distinc- 
tion and denies the incomprehensibility of God. In Van Til's view, 
"we know the world truly . . . though not comprehensively." 11 

The bearing of this on Rom 1 : 1 8ff . must now be explained. In 
Van Til's view, this passage affirms that men knew God, yet chose to 
serve the creature rather than the Creator, all the while suppressing 
their inner knowledge of God. Van Til sees in this a rebellion against 

9 Christian Theory of Knowledge, 16; cf. The Defense of the Faith, 31-50; and 
"Apologetics," 9-11. 

10 Gordon H. Clark, "The Bible as Truth" BSac 114 (1957) 157-70; and "Apolo- 
getics," Contemporary Evangelical Thought (ed. by C. F. H. Henry; Great Neck, NY: 
Channel, 1957) 159. 

11 The Defense of the Faith, 43. For further discussion of this question, see Robert 
L. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 
1976) 98-105, and Gilbert B. Weaver, "The Concepts of Truth in the Apologetics 
Systems of Gordon Haddon Clark and Cornelius Van Til" (unpublished Th.D disserta- 
tion, Grace Theological Seminary, 1967) passim. Reymond favors Clark's approach 
and Weaver argues that Van Til is correct. 


the Creator-creature distinction and a setting up of human autonomy 
in the place of special revelation as the ultimate reference point for 
understanding the universe. Van Til's solution involves believers 
submitting once again to God's special revelation in order to interpret 
reality properly. "Man's interpretation must always be reinterpreta- 
tion. Men cannot get at reality at all except via the interpretation of 
God. . . . The fact that it is reinterpretation of God's original makes 
our interpretation valid." 12 

Three types of epistemological consciousness 

A second basic feature of Van Til's epistemology is his concep- 
tion of three types of consciousness. Based squarely upon his Creator- 
creature distinction, Van Til posits (1) Adamic consciousness, (2) 
unregenerate consciousness, and (3) regenerate consciousness. 13 By 
"Adamic consciousness" he refers to Adam's prefall submission to 
revelation when he receptively reconstructed and reinterpreted God's 
system. "Unregenerate consciousness" refers to man's mistaken and 
futile attempt to create his own autonomous system {creative con- 
struction) in total disregard of God's revelation. "Regenerate conscious- 
ness" refers to the believer's thought as it is being restored to Adamic 
consciousness, i.e., once again reinterpreting reality in submission to 
revelation (cf. Eph 4:20-24). It should be added here that Van 
Til's position would not deny a common created self-consciousness 
for all men. 

At this juncture, it is imperative to insert a qualifier. Van Til is 
quick to point out that both unregenerate and regenerate men may in 
practice be respectively better or worse than they are in principle. 
Thus the unregenerate man is often in practice not as bad as he could 
be in principle, and the regenerate man is often, sad to say, not as 
good in practice as he should be in principle. Here Paul's "old man" 
vs. "new man" motif is employed in a novel fashion. Just as the 
believer's "old man" hinders him in his quest for submission to God, 14 
so the unbeliever's old man (his God-likeness and sensus deitatis) 
hinders him in his quest for autonomy. In Van Til's own words, 

12 Psychology of Religion, vol. 4 of In Defense of Biblical Christianity (Nutley, NJ: 
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971) 53. 

13 See The Defense of the Faith, 48-50; Introduction to Systematic Theology, 25- 
30; and Christian Theistic Ethics, vol. 3 of In Defense of Biblical Christianity (Nutley, 
NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1977) 20-24. 

14 The writer is aware of the division among exegetes on the old man vs. new man 
motif (Rom 6:5; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10.) Van Til seems to agree with those who hold 
that this motif contrasts the old and new in the believer. There are others, however, 
who hold that the old man is the unregenerate man and the new man is the regenerate 
man. Even if one does not agree with Van Til's terminology, it must still be recognized 


It is the new man in Christ Jesus who is the true man. But this new 
man in every concrete instance finds that he has an old man within him 
which wars within his members and represses the working out of the 
principles of his true new man. Similarly it may be said that the non- 
believer has his new man. It is that man which in the fall declared 
independence of God, seeking to be his own reference point. . . . But as 
in the new man of the Christian the new man of the unbeliever finds 
within himself an old man warring in his members against his will. It is 
the sense of deity, the knowledge of creaturehood and of responsibility 
to his Creator and Judge. . . . Now the covenant breaker never fully 
succeeds in this life in suppressing the old man he has within him. . . . 
That is the reason for his doing the relatively good though in his heart, 
in his new man, he is wholly evil. So then the situation is always mixed. 
In anyone's statement of personal philosophy there will always be 
remnants of his old man. In the case of the Christian this keeps him 
from being consistently Christian in his philosophy of life and in his 
practice. In the case of the non-believer this keeps him from being fully 
Satanic in his opposition to God. 15 

Rom l:18ff. is obviously relevant to this point in Van Til's 
position. Man seems to be viewed by Paul as suppressing (1:18) his 
knowledge (1:21, 28, 32) of God in his futile quest for autonomy. 
Thus the unbeliever's "old man," his awareness of the Creator and the 
created universe, hinders his "new man" in its vain attempt to gain 
wisdom apart from God (1:22). 


The starting point of Van Til's system is the triune God who has 
infallibly revealed himself in self-attesting Scripture. Without this 
foundation, neither the law of contradiction nor man's sensory per- 
ception would be intelligible. Man is not viewed as an impartial 
seeker after truth who can be convinced of God's existence by 
probability arguments from reason or experience. Instead, man is 
viewed as a rebel against God who nonetheless in his innermost being 
still recognizes his Master. Therefore the point of contact in apolo- 
getics and evangelism 16 is the unbeliever's "old man," his awareness of 

that the believer still has the capacity to sin. For an able discussion of this question 
with a defense of the latter view, see John Murray, Principles of Conduct (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957) 211-19. 

15 See Van Til's "Introduction" in B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of 
the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948) 24; and also his "Nature 
and Scripture" in The Infallible Word (3rd rev. ed.; Philadelphia: Presbyterian and 
Reformed, 1967) 282. 

16 Van Til has been criticized for joining apologetics and evangelism by Frederic R. 
Howe, "Kerygma and Apologia," Jerusalem and Athens, 445-52. Van Til's response to 


God and God's universe which he possesses since he was created in 
God's image. Natural revelation is authoritative, sufficient, and per- 
spicuous to the natural man, 17 but he is guilty of suppressing its 
testimony and of not interpreting it conjointly with special (super- 
natural) revelation. 


This section does not purport to be an exhaustive exegesis of this 
passage. However, it will expose certain issues in these verses which 
are of crucial import to Van Til particularly and to Christian apolo- 
getics generally. Van Til's position will be evaluated from an exe- 
getical perspective. 

Argument of the passage 

The general argument of Rom 1:18-32 seems to have three 
movements. First, Paul relates the revelation of God's wrath (1:18). 
Second, he explains the reasons for God's wrath, namely, that men 
have suppressed and spurned God's self-revelation in nature. They 
idolatrously worship the creation — not the Creator (1:19-23). Third, 
Paul shows the results of God's wrath (1:24-32). God's judgment on 
man's idolatry includes delivering men over to impurity (24-25), 
homosexuality (26-27), and radical depravity (28-32). As a whole, 
then, this section of the epistle emphasizes a present continuing 
revelation of God's wrath (d7ioKaA.U7ti£Tai, 1:18), which is to be 
identified with God's delivering men over (7tapE5o)Kev, 1:24, 26, 28) to 
sin. The point of Paul's argument is not that these sins could lead to 
God's wrath in the future. On the contrary, these sins indicate that 
God's wrath is already being poured out. "In other words, sexual 
rebellion, license, and anarchy is the retributive judgment of God." 18 

More specifically, the argument of 1:18-21 seems to be built 
upon the conjunctions ydp (18, 20) and 5i6ti (19, 21). Salvation by 
faith and the revelation of the righteousness of God (1:16-17) are of 
utmost importance because (ydp) the wrath of God is also being 
revealed (1:18). The wrath of God is being revealed because (Sioti) 

Howe is that no "sharp distinction" between apologetics and evangelism is justified 
from Scripture. In Van Til's view, the "defense of the truth of Christianity is . . . 
always, at the same time, a witness to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life" 
(ibid., 452). 

17 "Nature and Scripture," 272-83. 

18 S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., "'God Gave Them Up': A Study in Divine Retribution," 
BSac 129 (1972) 130. 


men have not responded to the revelation of God clearly present in 
nature (1:19). 1:20 seems to be largely epexegetical of 1:19; the yap 
should probably be understood as explanatory ("indeed"). Men are 
without excuse (1:20c) because (5ioxi) they did not glorify God even 
though they knew him (1:21a). 

Romans 1:18 

In Rom 1:18 the meaning of Kaxexovxcov is crucial. The verb 
Kaxexco has two legitimate ideas in the NT, "to hold fast" and "to 
hold down." 19 The basic question here is whether Paul simply states 
that the unsaved "hold"(= "possess, have," AV) the truth or "suppress" 
(= "hinder, hold down," NIV, NASB) it. Reputable scholars may be 
found on both sides of the question. 20 The second alternative seems to 
fit the contextual argument much better. However, the two possibil- 
ities are complementary, not contradictory. If the unsaved possess the 
truth in an unrighteous state, they are actually suppressing it. Like- 
wise, the suppression of truth seems to presuppose the possession of it. 

For Van Til, Kaxexovxcov definitely refers to suppression. When 
one scans Van Til's works he finds many different "translations" of 
the word, including "hold, hold back, hold down, hold under, keep 
under, keep down, hinder, resist, repress, and suppress." The unsaved 
man in Van Til's view constantly fights the losing battle of estab- 
lishing human autonomy in spite of the sensus deitatis within. The 
suggestion of Cranfield, that Kaxexovxcov is merely conative, fits in 
well with Van Til's understanding. 21 Although the unsaved attempt to 
obliterate the truth, it is inherent in their very beings. This attempt "is 
always bound in the end to prove futile." 22 

"See BAGD, 422-23, for a detailed discussion. 

20 Those who view Kaxexovxcov as possession include G. Abbott-Smith, Manual 
Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (3rd ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1937) 241, 
following J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (reprinted; Winona Lake, 
IN: Alpha Publications, n.d.) 251. See also R. St. John Parry, ed., The Epistle of Paul 
the Apostle to the Romans (CGT, Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1912) 43-44. 
However, most exegetical commentaries view Kaxexovxcov as suppression. See, for 
example, C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Romans (ICC; 
Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 1. 112; C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Epistle 
to the Romans (New York: Harper and Row, 1957) 34. Against both of the above is 
the translation "laying claim" advocated by F. W. Danker in "Under Contract," 
Festschrift to Honor F. Wilbur Gingrich (ed. E. H. Barth and R. E. Cocroft; Leiden: 
Brill, 1972) 93. 

1X Commentary on Romans, 1. 112. 

22 Ibid. 


Romans 1:19 

Two features of 1:19 are relevant to this discussion. The first of 
these concerns the meaning of the phrase to yvcocrcdv xou GeoO. Does 
this phrase refer to actual or merely potential knowledge? In other 
words, is there a real sense in which unsaved men know God, or is 
Paul simply saying that God is "knowable"? This second view has the 
support of many well-known scholars. 23 However, H. G. Liddon's 
statement is hard to disprove: "The phrase . . . must, according to the 
invariable New Testament and LXX use, mean that which is known 
not that which may be known about God." 24 

For Van Til the unsaved man really knows God. God is revealed 
clearly through both nature and conscience. While Van Til would 
admit that nature's revelation of God is limited in scope (cf. 1:20), he 
would still insist that man actually knows this God. While yvcoaxot; 
may have a potential meaning in Classical Greek, 25 it seems best in 
light of both NT usage and the context to understand it as a reference 
to a real yet suppressed knowledge. There is no warrant here to speak 
of a potential knowledge of God to be gained by probability argu- 
mentation. Paul is certainly not attempting a "cosmological argu- 
ment." Rather, he is speaking of an actual knowledge of God 
obtained from nature. Man suppresses this limited knowledge and 
thus becomes "without excuse" (1:20). 

The second feature of 1:19 which deserves treatment here is the 
meaning of the prepositional phrase iv auxolg. Three views have been 
suggested, each of which is grammatically possible: (1) God is mani- 
fest within each man's conscience 26 (2) God is manifest among men 

23 Ibid., 113; William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 42; 
E. H. Gifford, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (London: John Murray, 1886) 62. 
BAGD (164) translates "what can be known about God or God, to the extent that he 
can be known." Similarly, R. Bultmann, "Yivcoaicco," TDNT 1 (1974) 718-19, under- 
stands it "God in his knowability." 

24 H. P. Liddon, Explanatory Analysis of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 
(London: Longmans, Green, 1899) 26. See also H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and 
Exegetical Handbook to the Epistle to the Romans trans, by J. C. Moore and 
E. Johnson; rev. and ed. by W. P. Dickson; New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1884) 57; 
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis: 
Augsburg, 1961) 95-96; and Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans 
(reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976) 36. It should be noted that even if yvcooTov 
means "knowable" the context seems to require not only that God is "knowable" but 
that he is actually "known." That is why the suppression takes place. 

25 LSJ 355. 

26 Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 42; Gifford, Romans, 62; Liddon, Romans, 25; 
Meyer, Romans, 57; and Charles M. Home, "Toward a Biblical Apologetic," Grace 
Journal 2:2 (1961) 15. 


collectively, 27 and (3) God is manifest to men (= simple dative of 
indirect object auxolc,, 1:19b). 28 

Obviously, view 1 would be most in harmony with Van Til's 
position on the sensus deitatis. The strongest objection to this, 
however, is that the context emphasizes objective external revelation, 
not an internal individual subjective apprehension of that revelation. 29 
There may be some force to this objection, but it should be noted that 
the context of Romans 1 does include the idea of a subjective 
apprehension of the revelation in nature (cf. yvcoaxov, 1:19; yvovxeg, 
1:21; femyvcbaei, 1:28; and £7uyv6vxe<;, 1:32). How else could it be 
truly said that men "suppress" the truth (1:18)? Even if view 2 or 3 is 
favored, though, Van Til's position is not necessarily denied. 

Romans 1:20 

While much time could be spent on the attributes of God 
mentioned in 1:20 (Suvauic, Kai Oeioxrjc,), two other considerations 
are more specifically relevant to this study. The first of these concerns 
the meaning of the prepositional phrase and icxiaecoc, koouou. Schol- 
ars are divided over the question of a temporal ("since") or source 
("from") connotation. It could be argued that the source idea is more 
natural to the preposition's meaning, 30 but the temporal use is also 
clearly demonstrable. 31 Thus the question is whether this phrase refers 
to the source of the revelation of God's invisible attributes or to the 
time when these attributes began to be revealed in this way. 

Neither of these two possibilities present a problem to Van Til's 
apologetic. The temporal view is much to be preferred, however, since 
the source or means of the revelation is already expressed by xoic, 
7ioir||iaaiv (1:20). 32 Thus, the temporal view avoids a tautology. 
God's natural revelation, then, began at the time of the creation of 
the universe, but even during the pre-fall period, God's direct verbal 
revelation interpreted this natural revelation to Adam. 

"Cranfield, Romans, 1. 113-14. 

28 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1959), 1. 37-38. 

29 Cranfield, Romans, 1. 114; Murray, Romans, 1. 37-38. 

30 Gifford, Romans, 63, 70. 

31 BAGD, 87; J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1901) 58; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 42-43; Cranfield, 
Romans, 1. 114; and Murray, Romans, 1. 39. 

32 Nigel Turner views this as a probable instrumental dative. See his Syntax, vol. 3 
of A Grammar of New Testament Greek by J. H. Moulton (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 
1963) 240. 

turner: VAN TIL AND ROM 1: 18-21 55 

A second noteworthy feature of 1:20 is the meaning of the verb 
KaGopaxai. With id dopaxa this verb forms a striking oxymoron. 33 
The verb KaGopdco is a compound form in which Kaxd intensifies 
6pdco. The meaning is "perceive" or "notice" and can be rendered here 
with the modal participle voouueva, "perceived with the eye of 
reason." 34 Cranfield, holding that subjective mental perception is 
precluded, argues that merely physical sight is in view. 35 

For Van Til, the clarity or perspicuity of natural revelation is an 
important factor. It is his position that the theistic proofs (Aquinas's 
"five ways," 36 etc.) seriously compromise this clarity, since, as they 
are popularly formulated, they do not take into account the sensus 
deitatis and are content merely with probable conclusions as to God's 
existence. Van Til's position seems to be vindicated by the verb 
KaGopaxai. The unsaved are viewed as clearly perceiving God's 
invisible attributes even as they simultaneously suppress this knowl- 
edge. Van Til is correct, then, in maintaining that the theistic proofs 
as normally formulated are self-defeating. If men already know God 
exists, it is a mistake to attempt to prove it to them in the usual ways. 
The usual approach caters to man's desire for autonomy and does not 
take into account the sensus deitatis or the clarity of natural revela- 
tion. To reason with a supposedly neutral unsaved mind concerning 
the possibility of God's existence totally ignores Paul's thrust in this 

Romans 1:21 

Only one phrase in Rom 1:21 will be discussed, the adverbial 
participle yvovxeg xov Geov. Since it is aorist, it could involve action 
either prior to or simultaneous with that of the main verbs e56£aaav, 

Murray, Romans, 1. 38. For another mind-boggling oxymoron see Eph 1:19. 

34 BAGD 391. Thayer, Lexicon, 314 translates the verb "to see thoroughly, perceive 
clearly, understand." W. Michaelis views voouueva as a simultaneous modal participle 
describing a mental process, "6pdio," TDNT 5. 380. 

35 Romans, 1. 115. Similarly, Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 43, mention that the 
Kaxd prefix may be directive, resulting in the meaning "survey or contemplate." 

36 St. Thomas Aquinas, Existence and Nature of God, vol. 2 of Summa Theologiae, 
ed. T. McDermott (60 vols.; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964) 13-17 (Question 2, art. 3). 
Aquinas interpreted Rom l:18ff. as indicating men could come to know about God's 
existence by their natural powers of reasoning. Van Til, on the other hand, says that 
men already know God and use their rational capacities to suppress this knowledge. 
G. Bornkamm is certainly correct in pointing out that Paul here emphasizes natural 
revelation as a basis for judgment, not as a basis for a theoretical understanding of 
God. See his "Faith and Reason in Paul's Epistles," NTS 4 (1958) 96-97. It is difficult 
to understand the position of J. J. O'Rourke, who admits that Paul is speaking about 


T|CxapiaTr|aav, £uaTai(b0r|aav, and £oKOTia9r|. Cranfield opts for 
prior action "since their experience of God has necessarily always 
gone before their failure to recognize its true significance and act 
accordingly." 37 It would also seem true, however, that their failure to 
interpret their experience of God properly occurs even while they are 
aware of his being and existence. Perhaps the participle has a 
concessive force here. 38 The sense would then be that even though 
they knew God (as Paul shows in 1 : 1 8-20), they still refused to glorify 
or thank him. 

This understanding can be supported in the context of 1:21. 
Suppression of truth (1:18) requires a degree of knowledge about it, 
and 1:19-20 speak of the extent of this knowledge (being epexegetical 
to 1:18). The vanity and darkening of the mind in 1:21 and the 
activities described in the ensuing verses all assume man's knowledge 
of truth. Especially noteworthy in this regard is 1:28, where the men 
are portrayed as not liking to have God in their knowledge (feniyvcbaEi), 
resulting in the judicial punishment of an d56iauov vouv. In the 
culminating indictment of the chapter, 1:32, yet another reference is 
made to the fact that they knew God's righteous standards (to 
5iKatco|ia xou Geou imyvdvxec,). 

With the words "There are no atheists, least of all in the 
hereafter," 39 Van Til expresses his conviction that all men know God 
in the utmost depths of their beings. Paradoxically, though, men do 
not want to know God, and may claim to be atheists. Thus, the same 
person is in a sense both a theist and an atheist. Only the grace of 
God in Christ can create in such a person a true saving knowledge of 
the Godhead. 


A vitally important issue in apologetics today is the distinction 
between natural revelation and natural theology. While it is certain 
that God has revealed himself in nature, it is unbiblical to assert that 
man responds positively to natural revelation. On the contrary, man 
suppresses this knowledge, rebels against it, and is therefore judicially 
abandoned by God. Rom l:18ff. must not be understood as a 
cosmological argument for the probability of God's existence. Such 

an actual possession of knowledge about God but then implies that man obtains that 
knowledge via the use of Aquinas 's five ways. This view involves a positive response to 
natural revelation, which is contrary to Paul's emphasis in this passage. See CRourke's 
"Romans 1:20 and Natural Revelation," CBQ 23 (1961) 303-4. 

^Romans, 1. 116n. 

38 H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament 
(Toronto: Macmillan, 1955) 227. See also Barrett, Romans, 36; NASB. 

"The Defense of the Faith, 153. 

turner: VAN TIL AND ROM 1: 18-21 57 

an apologetic must be rejected. 40 The common ground between 
believers and unbelievers lies not in a supposed common epistemology 
but in a common bearing of God's image. 41 This metaphysical 
common ground, involving as it does the sensus deitatis, becomes the 
proper point of contact in apologetics and evangelism. Men are 
accessible to the gospel because they are God's image-bearers and live 
in God's universe which constantly testifies to them of God. 42 Here is 
the true genius of the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til. Let 
everyone who proclaims the gospel of Christ consider Van Til's 

Two areas of further study seem to be suggested by this study. 
First, it has been noted above that there is some question as to 
whether Van Til has overemphasized the sensus deitatis in Romans 1 . 
Even John Murray had reservations in this area. 43 This suggests the 
need for a study of 2:1-16 (especially 2:14-15) and a correlation of its 
emphasis with that of l:18ff. 

A broader area which needs further investigation is the tension 
between natural theology and natural revelation. Cranfield, for ex- 
ample, in his desire to avoid the former, is reticent to accept the 

40 See the critique of "natural theology" in G. C. Berkouwer, General Revelation 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955) 148-53. Berkouwer concludes that "only by distin- 
guishing between general revelation and natural theology can we do justice to the 
message of Scripture" (153). See also Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans (trans, 
by C. C. Rasmussen; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1949) 102-9; and M. D. Hooker "Adam in 
Romans 1," NTS 6 (1960) 299-300. 

41 Evidential apologetics relies upon a supposed epistemological common ground 
between believers and unbelievers. From this perspective comes J. W. Montgomery's 
parable of the Shadoks and the Gibis, which originally appeared in Jerusalem and 
Athens, pp. 383-88, and has recently been republished without change in Faith 
Founded on Fact: Essays in Evidential Apologetics (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1978), 
107-28. Montgomery concludes that presuppositionalism (which he labels fideism) 
results in an impasse — there is no point of contact between the mythical Shadoks and 
Gibis, who diverge radically in their respective world-views. However, Montgomery 
has neglected the truth of Rom 1 that men at bottom know God. As Jim S. Halsey 
states, "Montgomery's engrossing parable of the Shadoks and the Gibis fails as a valid 
critique of Van Til's apologetic for it assumes that each race . . . has been created as a 
metaphysical blank. In other words, the parable ignores the central and crucial fact 
that both the Shadoks and the Gibis know the truth from the outset of their respective 
existences. The difference between the two (Christian and non-Christian) occurs at the 
point of epistemological interpretation." See Halsey 's For a Time Such as This: An 
Introduction to the Reformed Apologetic of Cornelius Van 7Y/(Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1976) 78. 

42 In his stimulating study, "The Scope of Natural Revelation in Romans 1 and 
Acts 17," NTS 5 (1959) 133-43, H. P. Owen states "Paul would . . . seem to imply that 
the knowledge gained by natural revelation (either in an actual and recognized, or in a 
potential and unrecognized form) constitutes a 'point of contact' for the gospel" (142). 

""Murray, Romans, 1. 37-38. 


latter. He does not grant that men subjectively know God through 
natural revelation. In his view men know God 

... in the sense that in their awareness of the created world it is of him 
that all along, though unwittingly, they have been — objectively — 
aware. They have in fact experienced him . . . though they have not 
recognized him. ... It is in this limited sense they have known him all 
their lives. 44 

It has been previously argued that Paul's language in Rom 1 : 1 8ff 
requires more of an awareness of God than Cranfield allows. Perhaps 
Cranfield's motive is to relieve the paradox which Van Til's position 
sets up. Cranfield emphasizes man's estrangement from God to the 
detriment of natural revelation. However, Van Til emphasizes man's 
estrangement from God as rebellion against his own conscience and 
surrounding environment. Here followers of Van Til should be 
warned by Cranfield not to stress the sensus deitatis without a 
balancing stress upon man's suppression of truth, rebellion against 
truth, and judicial abandonment to radical depravity. 

"Romans, 1. 116-17. 




David Alan Black 

An important argument in favor of the encyclical theory of the 
epistle to the Ephesians is based upon the peculiarities found in the 
epistle itself. Yet these unusual features {e.g., the lack of personal 
greetings, the unusual statements in 1:15, 3:2, and 4:21, etc.) can all 
be satisfactorily explained in the light of an original Ephesian destina- 
tion. After an examination of early scribal habits and the theme of 
the epistle, the author concludes that the peculiarities of the letter are 
not conclusive reasons for rejecting the strong textual and historical 
testimony in favor of the Ephesian address. 


The epistle which is commonly known as "Ephesians" has in 
recent years been the subject of much critical discussion. The 
chief question about the Ephesian letter is its authenticity: Did the 
apostle Paul write the letter, as the epistle claims, or is it the work of 
an imitator? Of lesser importance, but related to the previous ques- 
tion, is the problem of the address of the Ephesian epistle. To whom 
was the letter written? 

Since the second century, the letter has been universally known 
as the Epistle to the Ephesians. Many modern scholars, however, in 
view of the omission in several manuscripts of the words "in Ephesus" 
(£v 'E(peacp) in 1:1, have rejected the Ephesian destination. A widely 
held view, initially proffered by Beza and popularized by Ussher, is 
that the Ephesian epistle was not written to any particular church, 
but rather was an encyclical letter to a group of churches in Asia 
Minor. The apostle Paul, therefore, when he penned the letter, left a 
blank in the preface (1:1) which was to be filled in by Tychicus as he 
distributed copies to the various churches. In this scheme, the reading 


of the Textus Receptus goes back to a copy sent to Ephesus, whereas 
the Alexandrian manuscripts p 46 , 8, and B stem from a copy in which 
the blank had never been filled up. It is hypothesized that since the 
epistle was distributed from Ephesus, the seat of the chief church in 
Asia Minor, it soon came to be known as the Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians, and the words "in Ephesus" (£v 'E(peacp) subsequently found 
their way into the majority of manuscripts. 1 

Arguments in favor of this view are presented in various ways by 
its proponents. When condensed and combined, the main lines of 
evidence appealed to in support of the encyclical theory are the 

1. The omission of £v 'Ecpeacp in 1:1 is supported by the oldest 
Greek manuscripts of the Pauline epistles: p 46 , N, and B. These 
Alexandrian codices are generally considered to be the most reliable 
authorities to the text of the NT, and to many, almost always 
preserve the original reading. 

2. Several early Church Fathers can be cited in support of the 
omission of tv 'Ecpsaq). Origen did not know of the words in his text. 
Marcion attributed the epistle to the Laodiceans. Basil said that he 
was aware of old manuscripts which did not contain ev'Ecpeaco. 
Though there is disagreement on the point, the Latin Father Tertul- 
lian may not have known the words in his text. 2 

3. The impersonal style of the letter is inexplicable if the epistle 
was addressed to the Ephesian church. This argument is based on 
internal evidence from the epistle itself. Thiessen gives the evidence 
for it in detail: 

The internal evidence strongly supports Aleph, B, and 67 2 . It 
would be strange indeed for Paul to say to the Church at Ephesus that 
he knew of their conversion only by report (1:15, 4:21), since he had 
spent three years with them (Acts 20:17, 31). It would be equally 
strange for him to say that this church knew him only by hearsay (3:2) 
and that they must judge by what he had written as to whether or not 
God had given him a revelation of the truth (3:2-4). It would also seem 
strange that he should send no greetings to a church that he knew so 

'E. Gaugler, Der Epheserbrief (Zurich: EVZ-Verlag, 1966) 4. Cf. H. C. Thiessen, 
Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 243-44. 

2 The actual statements of these Fathers may be found in T. K. Abbott, A Critical 
and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians 
(ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1897) ii-iii. As far as the testimony of Tertullian goes, 
the problem is his use of the word titulum. Did he intend for it to refer to the 
superscript of the epistle or to the prescript of 1:1? A good discussion of this question is 
offered by G. Stoeckhardt, Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, trans. 
Martin S. Sommer (St. Louis: Concordia, 1952) 14-17. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 61 

intimately. As Findley says: "Not once does he address his hearers as 
'brethren' or 'beloved'; 'my brethren' in Eph. 6:10 is an insertion of the 
copyists. There is not a single word of familiarity or endearment in the 
whole letter. The benediction at the end (6:23, 24) is given in the third 
person, not in the second as everywhere else." 3 

Metzger adds that the epistle does not deal with the mistakes, needs, 
or personalities of one individual congregation. 4 These writers main- 
tain that a letter written by Paul to his beloved Ephesus should 
contain personal references and greetings. Since these features are 
absent, the epistle could not have been intended solely for the church 
at Ephesus. 

The arguments in support of the encyclical theory at first appear 
to be very convincing. However, the view is open to numerous 
objections. Of major importance is the fact that there is absolutely no 
textual evidence to support the suggestion that Paul left a blank space 
for the addresses of the various churches after the words "who are" 
(toi<; ouaiv). The reading preserved in p 46 , S, B, and others shows 
only an uninterrupted sequence of words. This reading, however, is 
most unnatural, and it is obvious by comparison with the other 
Pauline epistles that after toi<; oCJcrtv a geographical designation is 
intended to be read. Unless one is willing to resort to an emendation 
of the text, 5 the only candidate with textual attestation for the 
original address is the reading £v 'E(pea(p, supported by the great 
majority of Greek manuscripts (including Alexandrinus and several 
other Alexandrian witnesses), the entire phalanx of ancient versions, 
and most early Fathers. It is, furthermore, the only address supported 
by ecclesiastical tradition. No other church (or group of Asian 
churches) ever claimed the epistle for itself. The only exception to this 

3 Thiessen, Introduction, 243. 

Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content 
(New York: Abingdon, 1965) 235. 

5 James P. Wilson ("Note on the Textual Problem of Ephesians 1:1," ET 16 [1948- 
1949] 225-26) suggests that after toli; ouaiv the numeral evi is to be read. Other 
conjectures are the following: A. van Roon (The Authenticity of Ephesians, trans. S. 
Prescod-Jokel [Leiden: Brill, 1974], 84) suggests xot<; ayoiq xolq ouaiv ev 'Iepoxco^et 
Kcti AaoSiKEiqt niaxoig tv Xpiat(5 'Inaou. Mark Santer proposes the reading toi<; 
dyioc, Kai nioioi^ ouaiv kv Xpiaxqi 'Inaou ("The Text of Ephesians 1:1," NTS 15 
[1968-1969] 248). Richard Batey thinks ouaiv is a corruption of 'Aaiag ("Critical — The 
Destination of Ephesians," JBL 82 [1963] 101). Though none of these emendations are 
unreasonable, the principal objection is over the validity of such a procedure in a 
passage where a reading with good documentary support is extant. A good critique of 
the conjectural readings in 1:1 is found in a recent article by Ernest Best, "Ephesians 
1:1" (Text and Interpretation: Studies in the New Testament presented to Matthew 
Black, eds. Ernest Best and R. McL. Wilson [Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1979] 


tradition is the claim of the heretic Marcion that the letter was 
addressed to the Laodiceans, an assertion that Tertullian insisted was 
attributable to Marcion 's propensity to "tamper" (interpolare) with 
the text. 6 Thus if the words "in Ephesus" are original, the traditional 
view that the epistle was addressed and sent to the church at Ephesus 
is correct and must be accepted, regardless of whatever interpretive 
problems this may produce. 

What of these frequently cited internal objections to the Ephe- 
sian address? Can they be answered if the traditional view is upheld? 
Those who favor the reading of the Chester Beatty papyrus and early 
uncials are convinced that the general nature of the epistle is the final 
argument for their position. There are, however, many scholars who 
see no contradiction at all between the epistle's unusual features and 
the inclusion of the words "in Ephesus." In the remainder of this 
article the writer would like to suggest simple alternative interpreta- 
tions for the lack of personal greetings, the peculiar statements in 
1:15, 3:2, and 4:21, and other internal objections to the Ephesian 
address in the hope of showing that there is no necessary contradic- 
tion between these features and the traditional view, and that, in fact, 
these peculiarities may possibly best be understood in the light of an 
Ephesian destination. 


On the surface, it appears strange indeed that Paul would include 
no greetings in an epistle addressed to a church in which he had 
served for nearly three years. The facts, however, seem to present us 
with a different situation. Lenski, for instance, calls the arguments 
from the impersonal style of the letter "unconvincing." 7 He points out 
that 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians all lack 
personal greetings, yet all were written to congregations founded by 
Paul, as was the church at Ephesus. On the other hand, the Epistle to 
the Romans has more greetings than any other epistle of Paul, yet 
this church was not founded by the apostle. Of the nine Pauline 
epistles which are addressed to churches (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and 
Philemon being excluded), five lack personal greetings (2 Corin- 
thians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Ephesians), and four 
contain them (Romans, 1 Corinthians, Colossians, and Philippians, 
this latter epistle not mentioning any individuals by name). Lenski 

Adv. Marc, V 17, quoted by Brook Foss Westcott, Saint Paul's Epistle to the 
Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) xxiii. 

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the 
Ephesians and to the Philippians (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1951) 334. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 63 

Why this difference? This is the real question and not the one 
regarding Ephesians alone. A blanket answer regarding the five cannot 
be given. Each letter stands by itself whether it is with or without 
greetings from or to individuals or from churches. That means that we 
can give only very tentative and partial answers to the questions as to 
why five letters are minus greetings, why four have greetings, and why 
these greetings are what they are, in one letter (Romans) a long list, in 
one only a summary (Philippians), both of these letters being different 
from the other two as far as greetings are concerned. As regards 
Ephesians, personal greetings are not missed by those who see the 
exalted subject and tone of the epistle. 8 

Lenski, in another place, concludes: 

Therefore, the presence or absence of greetings determines neither 
whether a congregation was founded by Paul nor whether a letter 
written by him is intended for only one or for several congregations 
whether these were founded by him or not. 9 

In a similar vein, Guthrie discusses the remarkable number of 
personal greetings in the Roman epistle, a phenomenon which has 
prompted some scholars to conclude that chapter 16 of Romans was 
originally sent to Ephesus and later attached to the book of Romans. 10 
In the course of that discussion he makes the following observation: 

There would be no parallel if this long series of greetings were sent 
to a church such as Ephesus which Paul knew well, for the only other 
occasion when he appended many personal greetings was when writing 
to Colossae which he had never visited. It was apparently against his 
policy to single out any individuals in churches that he knew well since 
he considered all the Christians to be his friends. But in a church like 
Rome, where he was not personally known, it would serve as a useful 
commendation that so many of the Christians there were his former 
acquaintances. ' ' 

In other words, it seems that the better Paul knew a church to which 
he was writing, the fewer personal greetings he included. 

If Guthrie's observation is correct, and there is no reason to 
doubt it, one should expect a noticeable lack of personal greetings in 

8 Ibid., 684-85. 

9 Ibid., 334. 

10 Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1975) 400-404. 

"ibid., 401. Harry Gamble, Jr. (The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans 
[Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977] 48) writes: "Are these greetings not rather the 
exception which prove the rule: Individuals are not greeted in letters to churches with 
which Paul is personally acquainted." 


an epistle written by Paul to a church he had founded and in which 
he had served for three years. Thus the argument for the encyclical 
theory based on the lack of personal greetings in Ephesians can be 
logically used to yield the opposite result. 

The other features of the epistle are also explainable. The fact 
that Paul "heard" of their faith (1:15) may refer only to recent 
intelligence. 12 Years had gone by since Paul had been in Ephesus. In 
the meantime, the congregation no doubt had grown, and there were 
probably many new members whom Paul did not know personally 
when he wrote this epistle. This verse may be a reference to them. Yet 
another possibility exists. Paul could write to people whom he had 
never met that he had heard of their faith (Col 1:4), but he could also 
say to his friend and co-worker (ouvepyot;) Philemon, "I hear of your 
love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and 
toward all the saints" (Philemon 5). Lenski writes in this regard: "One 
may hear about persons whom one has never met (the Colossians) as 
well as about persons whom one has met (the Ephesians, Phile- 
mon)." 13 For Paul, therefore, to say that he had "heard" of these 
believers' faith and love does not necessitate the conclusion that he 
had not previously known them. The verse can easily be interpreted 
as a reference to the progress of the Ephesian Christians since Paul's 
departure from Ephesus. 

Eph 3:2 is another verse which is often used to support the 
circular hypothesis, where Paul writes, ". . . if indeed you have heard 
of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you." 
The focus here is upon the words "if indeed you have heard" (ei ye 
^KouoaTe), which seem to imply that the recipients of this letter had 
not heard all of this. The force of ei ye, however, is not doubt, but 
certainty. Hendriksen writes: 

A strict literal translation of what Paul actually writes is perhaps 
impossible in English. The nearest to it would be something like this: 
"If, indeed, you have heard." Cf. A.V., "If ye have heard"; A.R.V., "If 
so be that ye have heard." However, that type of rendering will hardly 
do, since it might suggest that Paul is questioning whether or not the 
Ephesians, by and large, have ever heard about the task committed to 
him by his Lord. 14 

12 Charles Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Philadelphia: 
Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856) xii. 

13 Lenski, Ephesians, 388. 

l4 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Ephesians 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967) 151. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 65 

Lenski agrees: 

It is difficult to imitate the little intensifying ye in English; our 
"indeed" is a little too strong. The condition of reality with its gentle 
particle [sic] states the matter in a mild and polite form: "if, indeed, 
you have heard" (the Greek is satisfied with the aorist "heard," the 
simple past fact), meaning: / know that you have. 15 

Therefore, Hendriksen prefers to translate the words ei ye r^Kouaaxe 
"for surely you have heard," 16 so as to avoid implying that they had 
not heard the apostle. Or, as Vincent says, "the words are a reminder 
of his preaching among them." 17 

The words ei ye . . . r)KouoaTe appear again in 4:21: "if indeed 
you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in 
Jesus." To some, this verse indicates that the readers of this epistle 
had not learned Christian truths through Paul and therefore shows 
that Paul could not have been writing to the Ephesians. Yet here 
again, Paul is not implying doubt, but certainty, in his remark. 
Vincent says: "The indicative mood implies the truth of the supposi- 
tion: If ye heard as ye did." n Furthermore, the emphasis of Paul's 
statement is upon the teaching of Christ in contrast to the teaching of 
men. But Paul is not stating here that he had never instructed these 
believers or that he did not know them personally. When Paul wrote 
to congregations with which he was not personally acquainted, he 
always mentioned that fact. 19 Of the thirteen Pauline epistles, only 
two epistles fit into this category (unless Ephesians be admitted): 
Romans and Colossians. In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul specif- 
ically mentions his desire to visit them and to see them for the first 
time (1:8-15). In Colossians, Paul writes: "For I want you to know 
how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at 
Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face" 
(2:1). Yet, in the Epistle to the Ephesians there is nothing even similar 
to this. 

The argument that points out that Ephesians does not deal with 
the mistakes, needs, or personalities of a single congregation, and 
therefore is a circular letter, is also explainable and may be dealt with 
briefly. As far as mistakes or needs are concerned, Tenney points out 

15 Lenski, Ephesians, 465-66 [italics added]. 

16 Hendriksen, Ephesians, 151. Cf. The New English Bible, "for surely you have 

"Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1965), 3. 380. 

18 Ibid., 394. 

19 See Stoeckhardt, Ephesians, 22. 


that Ephesians was not written to novices in the Christian faith, but 
to those who had achieved some maturity in Christ. 20 Lenski notes 
that there was little need for correction in this epistle because Paul 
had received only good news from Ephesus (1:15). He writes: 

This explains the general character of Paul's letter. Ephesians is 
unlike any other of Paul's letters in that it treats a great subject for the 
sole purpose of edification only. 21 

As far as Paul's personal interest in the Ephesian church goes, 
the Apostle does mention that Tychicus was to make an oral report 
about Paul's condition and plans to the recipients of the letter. The 
very wording of Eph 6:21-22, being almost identical to Col 4:7-8, 22 
implies that Paul had a definite church in mind when he wrote the 
epistle. Referring to these two passages, Stoeckhardt writes: 

To every unprejudiced reader these words clearly convey the 
following facts: Paul had entrusted to his faithful co-laborer Tychicus 
both of these Letters, the one to the Colossians, the other to the 
Ephesians, in order that he should deliver them to those for whom the 
Letters were intended, and Paul had also given Tychicus a companion, 
Onesimus, who was to return to his master in Colosse. No one doubts 
that Tychicus did exactly that with which he had been charged. 23 

It seems certain, then, that Tychicus reported Paul's condition and 
plans to the Ephesian church, just as he did in Colosse. Could this 
not be an indication of Paul's personal concern for the believers in 

It may be seen, therefore, that the "unusual" features of this 
epistle can be understood just as easily, if not more easily, by holding 
to the traditional view. As a result, proponents of the Ephesian 
destination feel justified in their denial of any contradiction between 
the words ev ' Ecpeaco and the contents of the letter. Assuming, 
however, that the Ephesian Christians were the epistle's original 
addressees, how does one account for (1) the textual variation in 1:1, 
and (2) the general nature of the letter? These are valid questions 
which must be addressed. That both of these questions can be 
satisfactorily answered in the light of an Ephesian destination is the 
focus of the remaining discussion. 

"Merrill C. Tenney, New Testament Survey (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 318. 
2 'Lenski, Ephesians, 327-28. 

22 See Hendriksen, Ephesians, 25, for the comparison. 
23 Stoeckhardt, Ephesians, 25. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 67 

the variant reading in 1:1 

If the Ephesian address is original, is there any evidence to 
explain the omission of the words ev 'E(peo(p? The usual reasons for 
accidental omission, such as homoioteleuton, homoioarcton, itacism, 
etc., do not seem to apply in this case. It is also difficult to explain 
the omission on the basis of an error of the ear, memory, or 
judgment. A remote possibility is that the name "Ephesus" was 
abbreviated and somehow in its shortened form overlooked by a 
careless scribe. No evidence exists, however, that Christian scribes 
ever accepted into their system of contractions the names of cities. 24 If 
accidental omission is ruled out as a plausible explanation for the 
shorter reading, there remains only the possibility of an intentional 
omission. But why would a scribe want to excise these words from his 

Perhaps the most plausible answer to this question is that the 
address was deleted in order to convert the epistle into a catholic 
letter. By the omission of the words ev 'Ecpeocp, the epistle would lose 
its specific address and thus acquire a more general pertinence. This 
hypothesis has the following arguments in its favor. First, van Roon 
has pointed out that there was a "tendency in ancient Christianity to 
stress the ecumenical validity of the epistles of Paul." 25 This tendency 
may have prompted the omission of geographical indications in the 
Pauline letters. Second, an example of the careful omission of place 
names is actually found in Rom 1:7 and 15. In these verses the ninth 
century majuscule Boernerianus (G) omits the words ev 'Pcburj after 
xoic, o6aiv. The editorial committee of the United Bible Societies' 
Greek New Testament interpreted the omission "either as the result of 
an accident in transcription, or more probably, as a deliberate 
excision, made in order to show that the letter is of general, not local, 
application." 26 In this connection, Gamble made a study of the 
textual history of Romans, an epistle which has been preserved in 
three basic forms: one of fourteen chapters, another of fifteen, and a 
third of sixteen. Both of the shorter forms omit the last chapter, 
which is replete with personal references. Gamble came to the follow- 
ing conclusion about this phenomenon: 

Therefore the emergence of both the fourteen- and the fifteen- 
chapter forms of the text must be sought at a later point in the 

24 Only Jerusalem, the "Holy City," was included among the nomina sacra. 
25 Van Roon, Authenticity of Ephesians, 81. 
Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New 
York: The United Bible Societies, 1971) 505. 


tradition of the letter, and we have seen that of the various possibilities 
only an early effort to "catholicize" the Roman letter suffices to explain 
the origin of the shorter and generalized textual forms. 27 

Gamble goes on to explain that to some scribes of the ancient world 
the Roman epistle could not maintain both a specific address and 
catholic relevance. As a result, the shorter forms of Romans were 
created. 28 

If Gamble's conclusions are correct, the Roman epistle is a clear 
example of what van Roon mentioned was the tendency in early 
Christianity, namely, to make Paul's epistles catholic. Why could this 
same thing not have happened in Ephesians? The possibility that it 
could have happened is strengthened by the impersonal style and 
general theme of the epistle. On the surface at least, the fact that 
Ephesians contains no personal greetings and addresses itself to the 
theme of the universal church makes the epistle appear that it was 
intended for a wider circulation than Ephesus alone. In Romans, the 
greetings in chap, sixteen had to be omitted as well as the place 
designation in order to give the epistle a catholic appearance; in 
Ephesians, the form was already suited to such editing. 

Interestingly, of the thirteen epistles of Paul, only Romans, 
1 Corinthians, 29 and Ephesians contain addresses which were tam- 
pered with by copyists. The fact that in all three of these letters the 
specific recipients are omitted in some manuscripts leads Gamble to 

It is not difficult to suppose, therefore, that at an early time Paul's 
letters were adapted for more general use in an unsophisticated and 
rather mechanical way by textual revision which aimed at omitting 
specific matter. The short form of Romans which omits the address can 
be understood as a consequence of this interest, and we probably have 
to do with the same cause for the variants in the addresses of 
1 Corinthians (1:2) and Ephesians (1:1), as Dahl has suggested. Accord- 
ing to evidence, precisely these three letters enjoyed the greatest 
ecclesiastical use in the late first and early second centuries, and so 
would seem to have called for some resolution of the problem of 
particularity. 30 

"Gamble, Textual History, 128. 

28 Ibid. 

29 The variant in 1 Cor 1:2 involves the transposition and/ or possible omission of a 
specific reference to Corinth. In Col 1:2 there are differences in the spelling of 
"Colossians," but this hardly relates to the present discussion. 

30 Gamble, Textual History, 117-18. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 69 

Gamble is referring to an article by N. A. Dahl in which he shows 
that the particularity of the Pauline epistles was a major problem in 
the ancient church. 31 He points out that for early Christians it was no 
easy task to see how epistles which were written to particular churches 
(or individuals) under particular circumstances could be regarded as 
catholic, and therefore could be read in all the churches as relevant to 
believers in general. In the conclusion of his article, Dahl writes: 

I Corinthians, Romans and Ephesians are the three epistles which 
are most often echoed in writings of pre-Marcionite Christian authors. 
It is reasonable to assume that these epistles circulated among the 
churches before the publication of a Corpus Paulinum. Each of them, I 
would think, was published in separate editions; in such editions the 
particular addresses could be left out in order to make the letter 
"catholic." Some vestiges of them are still left in the textual tradition of 
the collected corpus. 32 

Dahl goes on to show that as the years passed by and these epistles 
came to be published and distributed in the Pauline Corpus, the 
problem of their particularity eased. The epistles of Paul, even the 
ones which dealt with the most particular subject matter (as Phile- 
mon), came to be read in all the churches "as Scriptures relevant to 
the whole church and not simply as historical documents." 33 

Therefore, it may have been no mere coincidence that Ephesians 
was one of the three Pauline epistles to have its address tampered 
with. This letter was uniquely suited to just such an editorial corrup- 
tion: it lacks direct personal greetings; its theme is the universal 
church; it contains certain phrases which en apparence imply catho- 
licity. For these reasons, the hypothesis that the words £v 'Ecpeacp 
were omitted to convert the letter from a specific writing to a 
particular church into a letter intended for all believers may be 
accepted as a plausible explanation for the reading of p 46 , W, B, and 
others. Then, in the course of time, it came to be generally recognized 
that the letters of Paul, as canonical and therefore catholic, no longer 
needed to be "adapted" for the more general use, and the shorter 
format of the address was rejected. If this hypothesis is correct, the 
absence of a place designation, and not its presence, should be 
considered anomalous. 

31 Nils A. Dahl, "The Particularity of the Pauline Epistles as a Problem in the 
Ancient Church," Neotestamentica et Patristica: Freundesgabe Herrn Professor Dr. 
Oscar Cullmann zu Seinem 60. Geburtstag Uberreicht, ed. W.C. van Unnik (Leiden: 
Brill, 1962) 261-71. 

32 Ibid., 270-71. 

"Ibid., 271. 



When all the evidence is considered, the peculiarities of the 
Ephesian epistle are at least as difficult to explain on the encyclical 
hypothesis as they are for the Ephesian destination. However, many 
writers feel that a case could be made that the peculiarities of the 
epistle are best understood in the light of the general purpose of the 
letter rather than the encyclical theory. Hodge, for instance, admits 
that the unusual features of the epistle are remarkable, but he goes on 
to point out that "they prove . . . nothing more than the apostle's 
object in writing this epistle was peculiar." 34 What was Paul's purpose 
in writing Ephesians? It seems clear from the general content and 
spirit of the letter that it was not for correction primarily, nor does it 
appear that there were special needs which required attention. Rather, 
in Ephesians Paul seeks to magnify the Christian church and to remind 
his readers of their glorious union with Christ (chaps. 1-3) and of the 
duties which arise from such a union (chaps. 4-6). 35 Paul's great subject 
is the church, the universal body of Christ. 

As a result, Ephesians is the only epistle in the NT in which the 
word "church" (lKKAT|oia) means exclusively the universal church 
rather than the local group. Hendriksen expands on this when he says 
that the term "church" in Ephesians indicates "the totality of those, 
whether Jew or Gentile, who were saved through the blood of Christ 
and through him have their access in one Spirit to the Father (2:13, 
18)." 36 Therefore, the local church at Ephesus was overshadowed in a 
sense by this emphasis upon the universal church, which was the 
central and overriding thought of the writer as he penned the letter. 

When seen in its historical context, it seems only fitting that the 
apostle Paul should have chosen the church at Ephesus to receive this 
opus magnum on the body of Christ. The Epistle to the Ephesians 
was composed in a.d. 61 or 62, after many churches had been 
founded. Sitting in his place of confinement in Rome, Paul had the 
opportunity to contemplate the full significance of the new organism 
which had come into being and to formulate for the first time the full 
meaning of the doctrine of the church. 37 The question arose, to which 
church should he send the letter, and he chose by the guidance of the 
Holy Spirit the assembly of believers at Ephesus. But why would he 
have chosen the Ephesian church? Stoeckhardt writes: 

34 Hodge, Ephesians, xii. 

"Stoeckhardt, Ephesians, 32-33. 

36 Hendriksen, Ephesians, 63. This is not the first time, however, that Paul uses the 
word feKKXrjaia in its general sense. Cf. Gal 1:13, 1 Cor 14:19, and Phil 3:6. 

37 Tenney, New Testament Survey, 317-18. Cf. Ernest F. Scott, The Literature of 
the New Testament (New York: Columbia University, 1933) 184. 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 71 

The congregation at Ephesus was the largest, the most prominent, 
and the best indoctrinated congregation of the Orient. At that time it 
was still ag'ow with its first love. This congregation was a bright light 
in the Lord, which with its beams illuminated wide stretches of pagan 
darkness. It was therefore entirely proper that the Apostle, her old 
teacher, who at present had no special instruction or admonitions 
which he wished to impress upon her, should remind that congregation 
of her high honor and grace, gifts of Christ, and of her communion 
with the Church of Christ and her high calling which as a congrega- 
tion of Christ she was to fulfill in the world. 38 

Thus the epistle was written to the Ephesians and addressed to them, 
but Paul used a form to emphasize the Ephesian assembly as a 
representative of the universal church, rather than as a local church. 
This was appropriate, because for Paul the local church is nothing 
more than the result of the expansion of the one universal church. 39 
That a single congregation could represent the universal church 
is a point upon which many NT scholars agree. Lohse writes: 

Whether in the plural number or singular, whenever the £KK\naia 
is spoken of, it is always a matter of the congregating of the Christian 
church as God's holy people. The single church fails in no way to 
perfectly represent the church of Jesus Christ. It is the people of God 
who are assembled in Thessalonika, Phillipi, Corinth, Rome, Braun- 
schweig, Gandersheim, and anywhere else. 40 

Reicke agrees: 

In fact, Paul is inclined to regard each local church not only as a 
copy in miniature of the universal church, but as being the universal 
church itself, realized in this world. 41 

Stoeckhardt, Ephesians, 27-28. 
39 Bo Reicke, "Unite Chretienne et Diaconie," Neotestamentica et Patristica (Leiden 
Brill, 1962) 212. 

"Ob in der Mehrzahl oder in der Einzahl von der feKKXnoia gesprochen wird, 
immer handelt es sich in der Versammlung der christlichen Gemeinde um Gottes 
heiliges Volk. Der einzelnen Gemeinde fehlt also nichts, um die Kirche Jesu Christi 
vollstandig reprasentieren zu konnen. Gottes Volk ist versammelt in Thessalonich, 
Philippi, Korinth, Rom, Braunschweig, Gandersheim und wo immer sonst." Eduard 
Lohse, Die Entstehung des Neuen Testaments (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1972) 192. 

"En effet, Paul est enclin a regarder chaque eglise locale, non seulement comme 
une copie en miniature de l'eglise universelle, mais comme etant l'6glise universelle elle- 
meme, realisee dans ce monde." Reicke, "Unite Chretienne et Diaconie," 203. Cf. 
H. Bavinck: "In de verschillende plaatselijke vergaderingen der geloovigen komt de 6ene 
gemeente van Christus tot openbaring," Gereformeerde Dogmatiek (Kampen, Nether- 
lands: Kok, 1911), 4. 302. 


Really, one need go no further than the letters of the apostle Paul to 
see this, as, for instance, when he writes to the church at Corinth, "Ye 
are the body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:2). In fact, Paul regarded the 
Corinthian believers as "the church of God which is at Corinth" 
(1 Cor 1:2). Thus Reicke could observe: "The totality of the church is 
for St. Paul the primary fact; its localization is but a corollary of 
it." 42 

There is therefore no problem in saying that the epistle was 
written and addressed to the Ephesians, if one also understands that 
the epistle's focus is upon the body of Christians as a class, rather 
than upon the Ephesians as a local church. Ephesus, as the seat of the 
"great mother church," had the right to receive such an epistle. But in 
keeping with his theme Paul may have used a style to suit it to all 
Christians, including those in the neighboring churches to whom it 
would invariably be communicated. 43 (Perhaps it is in this sense that 
the Ephesian epistle should be considered "encyclical.") 44 Thus the 
general nature of the epistle does not argue against the Ephesian 
address as such, but rather may simply be in keeping with the general 
theme of the epistle. 


The encyclical theory grew out of the uncertainty regarding the 
reading of 1:1 and offers to many the most plausible explanation of 
why the two words ev 'Ecpeacp are missing from such early and note- 
worthy manuscripts as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Because it is sup- 
ported by seemingly unanswerable internal arguments, numerous 
scholars are convinced that this view is the most credible. However, 
though much could be said for such a line of evidence, these 
arguments cannot be considered as conclusive for there are alterna- 
tive interpretations for each. All of the internal objections have been 
answered satisfactorily by capable scholars in the light of an Ephesian 
address. In fact, some of these peculiarities, much more than being 
objections to the Ephesian destination, may instead be taken as 
supports for it. For example, the fact that Ephesians lacks personal 

42 "La totalite de l'eglise, c'est pour saint Paul le fait primaire, sa localisation en est 
seulement un corollaire." Reicke, "Unite Chretienne et Diaconie," 203. 

43 Hodge, Ephesians, xiii. 

"Referring to the collection and distribution of the Pauline epistles, F. F. Bruce 
writes: "But when his letters were published in one corpus (and even earlier, if they 
circulated in smaller collections), it was because the authority of each, and of all 
together, was believed to extend beyond the first addressees to the Church at large." 
("New Light on the Origins of the New Testament Canon," New Dimensions in New 
Testament Study, eds. Richard Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney [Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1974] 10.) 

black: ephesians and the ephesian address 73 

greetings is apparently more in keeping with Paul's policy than if he 
had attached a long series of greetings, and therefore becomes a 
possible argument in favor of the traditional address. 

Furthermore, the textual phenomenon in 1:1 seems to argue for 
the Ephesian address rather than against it. It would appear that 
either the words ev ' Eq>eacp were intentionally added or intentionally 
omitted. From both intrinsic and transcriptional evidence it is not 
difficult to decide in which direction the change went. On the one 
hand, the reading ev'E(peacp is characteristically Pauline, and its 
omission would be a singular exception among all of the epistolary 
addresses in the Pauline Corpus. The omission also leaves the text 
with insoluble syntactical problems which make the translation and 
interpretation of Ephesians 1:1 without ev 'E(peocp extremely difficult, 
if not impossible. 45 On the other hand, there is good reason to believe 
that a scribe may have omitted the words "in Ephesus." By so doing 
he would have given the epistle the appearance of being universally 
addressed. With its absence of personal greetings and its general 
theme, the Ephesian epistle was uniquely suited to just such a 

In addition, the fact that the epistle's focus is upon the universal 
church, and not upon the Ephesians as a local church, does not argue 
against the Ephesian destination as such. To proceed from the 
impersonal style of the letter to the conclusion that therefore Paul 
could not have been writing to a local congregation is a non sequitur. 
The general theme of Ephesians provides an adequate explanation for 
the general nature and style of the epistle. 

Plausible as the encyclical theory may seem, when the evidence is 
considered the traditional view appears to best account for all the 
facts: the textual variation in 1:1, the non-local flavor of the epistle, 
the universal tradition of the church that the letter was written to the 
Ephesians, and the weighty documentary evidence in support of the 
Ephesian address. As a result, it may be concluded that the peculiar- 
ities of the letter are not conclusive reasons for rejecting the strong 
textual and historical testimony in favor of the Ephesian destination. 

45 F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, trans. 
Robert W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1975) 213. 


James L. Boyer 

This inductive study of the approximately 300 NT instances of 
the first class condition (ei + indicative) disputes the common under- 
standing that this construction should be interpreted as obviously 
true and translated as "since. " It is found that this is the case only 
37% of the time. Surprisingly, in 51% of the occurrences the condition 
is undetermined. Four proposed explanations of this construction are 
examined and found to be inadequate. It is then argued that the correct 
explanation of the first class condition is a simple logical connection 
between protasis and apodosis. 

* * * 

The meaning of words is properly determined by a study of the ways 
they are used in their many contexts, not by theoretical rationaliza- 
tions on root meanings and etymologies. In just the same way the 
significance of a group of words in grammatical construction is 
determined by careful study of the same construction in actually 
occurring contexts, not by rationalizing about voice, mood, and the 
technical terminology employed by grammarians to identify them. 

A commonly occurring example of the neglect of this axiom is 
the manner in which the construction frequently called "First Class 
Condition" is handled in much exegetical literature. Reasoning from 
the use of ei instead of £dv and the use of the indicative mood, the 
mood of reality and actuality, the conclusion is drawn that the first 
class conditional sentence is not really a condition at all, but it 
implies that the condition is actually true and could well be translated 
"since." 1 Is this true? 

To gather the information for this kind of biblical study, it was 
necessary to locate all examples of this grammatical construction 

'Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 3: Syntax (Edinburgh: 
T. & T. Clark, 1963) 115. F. Blass, and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New 
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans, and rev. by Robert Funk 
(Chicago: University of Chicago, 1961) 188-90. 


occurring in the NT. By using the gramcord tool, 2 a print-out was 
produced of all places where the conjunction et is followed by an 
indicative verb. Next, the list was edited manually to remove non- 
applicable situations 3 and to supplement the list by inserting those 
first class conditions not caught by the program. 4 The result was a list 
of about 300 instances 5 in the NT where first class conditions occur. 
The procedure in case of uncertain instances was to include both, 
noting, of course, the problem. 

Having in this list the materials for study, a detailed analysis was 
made of all kinds of information about the construction, such as 
sentence connectives used, the negative particle (where it occurred), 
the tense and mood of the verb(s) in both the protasis and apodosis, 
the "time reference" involved, the form of the apodosis (admonition, 
promise, rhetorical question, declarative statement, etc.). Since many 
of these are not closely involved in the interpretive problem under 
consideration in this article, they will not be tabulated here. 

The consideration primarily involved in this study is the "relation 
to reality" expressed in the ei-plus-indicative protasis. This was 
carefully appraised, listed, and tabulated, with the following results: 

I. Instances where the condition was obviously true. 

II. Instances where the condition was obviously false. 

III. Instances where the condition was undetermined: 

1. Uncertain by reason of futurity. 

2. Uncertain by reason of providence, "the course 

of events." 24 8% 

3. Uncertain by reason of man's spiritual 

condition. 38 12% 

4. Uncertain by reason of man's actions or 

choices. 72 24% 

5. Uncertain by reason of man's ignorance or 

doubt. 16 5% 

The implications of this information are the materials for the rest of 
the discussion. 

2 For information, see my article "Project Gramcord: A Report," GTJ 1 (1980) 97-99. 

3 Et + indicative, of course, also includes all second class conditions (contrary to 
fact) and a few examples where ei urj = "except." These I propose to deal with in a later 

4 For example, cases where the verb of the protasis was left to be understood in the 
text but easily supplied from the context. 

5 The number is not definite, since some are mixed (part first class and part second 
class); some are incomplete (where the protasis or apodosis is left unexpressed); and 









boyer: first class conditions 77 

proposed explanations: true to fact 

It seems obvious why "relation to reality" is the crucial consider- 
ation, and it quickly appears that this term is understood very 
differently by different scholars. If it is understood to apply to the 
actual truth of the condition — its correspondence to the real world 
"out there" — then the three general categories (I, II, III) are sufficient 
to settle the controversy immediately and completely. Such an under- 
standing is impossible. If the first class condition states or implies the 
actual truth, then it could not possibly be used by Christ to say, "If [or 
according to this view, since] I by Beelzebub cast out demons . . . 
(Matt 12:27), nor "Since I do not do the deeds of my father ..." (John 
10:37), nor "Since I have spoken evil . . ."(John 18:23). Paul could not 
have written "Since there is no resurrection . . ." (1 Cor 15:13), nor 
"Since Christ is not raised . . ." (1 Cor 15:14). These are not isolated, 
peculiar examples; they represent 1 2% of all the first class conditions in 
the NT. It is simply not true that first conditions indicate the external 
objective truth or reality of the condition. "Since," of course, could be 
used in those cases where the condition happens to be true without 
making the statement untrue, but even there it would be a mistransla- 
tion, since it alters what the authors actually said. Greeks had a word 
for "since" (at least two of them) but they deliberately chose "if." We 
must assume they knew what they were doing. 

The most surprising lesson from this study is the size and 
importance of the third category in the tabulation. Here are one-half 
of all the examples, dealing with possibilities rather than realities, and 
the questions are not "true or false," but "probable or doubtful." 
After long study, it seemed best to clarify the many "relations to 
reality" involved by listing them under the heading, "Non-determined 
by reason of" five circumstances listed above in the tabulation. To 
illustrate, note some examples. 

Matt 5:29, 30: "If your eye (or hand) offend, . . ."Is that a truth 
or a fact? It is clear that the reality of the condition depends on how 
one has been using the eyes (or hands). 

Matt 17:4: Peter said "If you wish, I will build three taber- 
nacles. ..." Did Christ so wish? Did Peter assume that he did? No; 
Peter perhaps thought that he did and volunteered. The condition 
was dependent on Peter's choice or desire, not on "relation to 

Matt 26:39, 42: Jesus prayed in Gethsemane "If it is possible ..." 
and a bit later "If it is not possible. . . ." It does not matter too much 

some are uncertain (where the verb is left unexpressed). It should be noted that in no 
case was uncertainty brought about by variant readings of the text. 


how we understand the content of that prayer. In any case, Christ 
prayed for something, conditioning it on its possibility. Here appar- 
ently the possibility depended on the providence of God, the course 
of events he had determined. Of course, these two conditions cannot 
possibly in any sense both be true; they are opposites. 6 

Acts 5:39: Gamaliel says, "If this is of God, you will not be able 
to stop them." It is clear that Gameliel was not stating that they were 
from God, nor that he thought or assumed that they were from God. 
He simply didn't know. I have labeled it "Uncertain by reason of 
ignorance or doubt." 

Rom 8:9: Paul says, "You are no longer in flesh if the Spirit of 
God is in you ... if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ ... he 
is not of him." Paul is not implying by his use of the first class 
condition that they were, or were not, in Christ (the same construc- 
tion is used for both). He is saying that whether or not a person is in 
Christ is determined by his spiritual condition — his possession of the 
Spirit. Precisely the same reasoning may be applied to 1 Cor 3:14, 15, 
7:12-15, 9:17, etc. 

2 Cor 1:6: "If we are being pressured ... if we are being com- 
forted. ..." In this sentence it is probably true that they were actually 
being tested and were receiving God's encouragement; we know it 
from the rest of the book. But it would be incorrect to say that this is 
indicated by the fact that it is a first class condition. 

proposed explanations: assumed true 

Since actuality or truth is obviously not the significance of first 
class conditions, another approach is needed. It is possible that the 
reality or actuality indicated by the indicative is the reality of 
statement, or the attitude of the speaker toward the condition stated; 
he states it "as true"; he assumes its truth for the sake of argument. 
This has been a common expedient on the part of those who 
recognized the problem dealt with in the preceding paragraphs, but 
still want to see something "real" about these indicative verbs. 7 And 
such an approach is acceptable if certain safeguards are clearly 

6 There are nineteen such pairs of first class conditional statements in the New 
Testament; twelve, as here, expressing optional alternatives, and seven indicating oppo- 
sites, either true or false. 

G. B. Winer, A Treatise on the Grammar of the New Testament Greek (Edin- 
burgh: T. & T. Clark, 1870) 364; S. G. Green, A Handbook of the Grammar of the 
Greek Testament (New York: Revell, n.d.) 317; A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the 
Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 
1007-12; Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New 
York: MacMillan) 287-89; W. D. Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek 
New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1941) 195. 

boyer: first class conditions 79 

understood. For example, Paul did not actually assume the truth of 
the statement, "If righteousness is through the law . . ." (Gal 2:20). 
But this way of saying it may be acceptable if we understand it to 
mean that Paul reasoned something like this: "Suppose for a moment 
that righteousness is through the law, then consider the implications 
of such, if it were true; for then Christ's death was wasted; he didn't 
need to die." However, this is not the way such a statement is 
commonly understood or used by exegetes. 

And while this manner of rationalizing, with careful safeguards, 
may sometimes make plausible sense, it seems to be possible only in 
contexts which suggest the idea of debate or argument. Where such is 
not the case this rationalization becomes meaningless or even worse. 
For example, Paul's words in 1 Cor 15 may easily be understood as 
"assuming for the sake of argument that there is no resurrection, 
then. . . ." But can we use it in Christ's Gethsemane prayer ("assuming 
for the sake of argument that it is possible for this cup to pass . . .")? 
With whom was he arguing? It would seem more reasonable to admit 
that such a rationalization is not the explanation of the meaning of 
the first class condition. 

proposed explanations: determined as fulfilled 

Apparently it was the influence of A. T. Robertson's monumental 
Grammar 9, which popularized a terminology that has given rise to the 
current confusion. He speaks of these conditions under the heading: 
"Determined as Fulfilled." The term "determined" refers to the use of 
the indicative mood, and "as fulfilled" distinguishes this from the 
second class, which also was "determined" (used the indicative) but 
determined as not fulfilled (i.e. contrary to fact). Robertson supports 
this terminology and concept very strongly in his theoretical explana- 
tion of its meaning, but insists that this "has to do only with the 
statement, not the absolute truth or certainty of the matter. . . . We 
must distinguish always therefore between the fact and the statement 
of the fact." 9 Robertson himself shows that he understood well what 
he meant and chooses his examples chiefly from among places where 
the fact and the statement of the fact were at variance, as a warning 
against misapplying his concept. But it has not saved many of his 
followers from making the precise mistake he warned against. 

And there is good evidence that even Robertson failed at times 
to heed his warning. In a spot-check of his Word Pictures™ on some 

See note 7 for bibliographical information. 
9 Ibid., p. 1006. 

10 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 vols. (Nashville: 
Broadman, 1930). 


passages where these first class conditions occur, his comments are 
not always clear. In many instances where the condition was in fact 
not true, he makes no mention that a first class condition is involved." 
In most instances his comment is, "assumed as true." What he means 
by that seems not always to be consistent. He frequently uses it of 
some statement which is obviously not "reality," considering it as- 
sumed for the sake of argument only. 12 But there are times when he 
seems to mean more than that. For example, in dealing with the 
Gethsemane prayer of Christ (Matt 26:42) he says, " 'Except I drink 
it. . . .' Condition of the third class undetermined, but with likelihood 
of determination, whereas 'if this cannot pass away' ... is first class 
condition, determined as fulfilled, assumed to be true. This delicate 
distinction accurately presents the real attitude of Jesus towards this 
subtle temptation." 13 It is noteworthy that he does not recognize v 39, 
"if it is possible," the exact opposite, as also first class, also pre- 
sumably part of the delicate distinction which accurately presents the 
real attitude of Jesus. Another example is Acts 5:39. "The second 
alternative is a condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled. . . . 
By the use of this idiom Gamaliel does put the case more strongly in 
favor of the apostles than against them. This condition assumes that 
the thing is so without affirming it to be true." 14 Again, in 1 Cor 15:2, 
"Paul assumes that they are holding it fast." 15 In such statements most 
readers would understand that he is using the term to imply 
factuality, not merely a conceivably logical premise to an argument. 
Again on Col 3:1, he says, "The preceding argument in 2:20 to 2:23, 
rests on the assumption that the Colossians had 'died with Christ 
from the elements of the world.' He assumed that to be true by the 
very form of the condition, 'if you died' (as you did)." 16 This last 
sentence can hardly be understood any other way than expressing 
Robertson's careless slipping into the error he in theory warns against 

"E.g., Matt 5:29-30, 17:4, 26:39; Rom 8:9; note particularly 1 Cor 15:12-19, where 
of seven occurrences of this construction, only one is identified as such. 

l2 Cf. his treatment of John 10:37-38; on v 37, "Condition of first class, assumed as 
true"; on v 38, "Condition again of the first class, assumed as true, but with opposite 
results." Also, on John 18:23, "Condition of the first class (assumed to be true). . . . 
Jesus had not spoken evilly toward Annas. . . . For the sake of argument, Jesus puts it 
as if he did speak evilly. Then prove it, that is all" (Vol. 5, pp. 190, 289). 

,3 Ibid., 1. 213. 

14 Ibid., 3. 69. 

15 Ibid., 4. 186. 

16 A. T. Robertson, Paul and the Intellectuals (Nashville: Sunday School Board, 
1928) 143. 

boyer: first class conditions 81 

proposed explanations: implies truth or factuality 

These last examples from Robertson illustrate well the manner in 
which this question is dealt with by some more careful writers 
today. 17 They understand the obvious fact that first class does not 
mean "true to fact" condition, but they seek to keep part of that 
misconception by holding that it indicates, implies, it is more strongly 
in favor of the particular supposition so stated. But, to be consistent, 
if the ei + indicative style of condition points out probability in any 
instance, it must in every instance, else such a conclusion is not an 
implication of the construction, but of some other element, such as 

correct explanation: logical connection 

What then does this examination of the first class conditions 
indicate as the correct significance of this construction? 

It seems better to drop entirely such references to reality (or 
actuality, or assumption, or implication of reality) and return to a 
"working" rather than "theoretical" definition of the first class condi- 
tion. The classical grammarians along with the older NT scholars had 
the right idea. This form of the conditional sentence was called the 
"Simple Condition." The essence of this approach may be seen from a 
few quotations. 18 

When the protasis simply states a particular supposition, implying 
nothing as to the fulfillment of the condition, it has the indicative 
with ei. 19 

Cf. Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights Into the New Testament (Edinburgh: 
T. & T. Clark, 1965) 52. Discussing the mixed condition in Luke 17:5, he says, "A 
grammarian would complain that the present indicative in the protasis in place of the 
correct imperfect had changed the clause from an unreal to a real condition. It means 
that the supposition introduced by 'if is no longer a vague one but is a real situation. It 
means that Jesus was not saying, 'If you had faith' (implying that they had not), but 'If 
you have faith' (leaving the matter open, but implying that they have)." He explains the 
ungrammatical words as "a subtle politeness." But note what his last statement 
indicates regarding his attitude toward the significance of a first class condition: 
"leaving the matter open, but implying that they have." 

18 Beside these representative quotes, others taking this basic approach are: H. P. V. 
Nunn, A Short Syntax of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 
1951) 1 17. James Hope Moulton, An Introduction to the Study of New Testament Greek 
(New York: MacMillan, 1955) 135. 

19 W. W. Goodwin, Greek Grammar, rev. C B. Gulick (Boston: Ginn, 1930) 294. 


Simple present and past conditional sentences are sometimes called 
'neutral,' because nothing is implied with regard to the truth of either 
condition or conclusion. 20 

This form merely sets forth the nexus between the conclusion and the 
condition; it sets forth the conclusion as real, if the condition is 
real — but implies nothing as to the latter. 21 

The protasis simply states a supposition which refers to a particular 
case in the present or past, implying nothing as to its fulfillment. . . . 
Conditional clauses of the first class are frequently used when the 
condition is fulfilled, and the use of the hypothetical form suggests no 
doubt of the fact. This fact of fulfillment lies, however, not in the 
conditional sentence, but in the context. 22 

If a more descriptive title for this class of construction than 
"Simple Condition" is desirable, "The Condition of Logical Connec- 
tion" may be useful. This form of conditional sentence affirms a 
logical connection between the condition proposed in the protasis and 
the conclusion declared in the apodosis. Sometimes this connection is 
that of cause and effect, but not always. "If there is a natural body 
there is also a spiritual one" (1 Cor 15:32) does not mean that the 
natural body causes or produces the spiritual one. It affirms a logical 
connection, a concurrence of the two; they "go together." If the 
protasis is true, it is logical that the apodosis is true. 

In summary, what does a first class conditional sentence in NT 
Greek mean? It means precisely the same as the simple condition in 
English, "If this . . . then that. ..." It implies absolutely nothing as to 
"relation to reality." It is saying that the result (the apodosis) is as 
sure as the condition (the protasis). It is a forceful device of language 
which leaves the judgment and convictions of the hearer with regard 
to the truthfulness of the supposition to prove or disprove and to 
enforce the truth of the conclusion. These statements can be made of 
every one of the 300 NT examples and are equally true of every one 
of them. It is the verdict of a usage study of this grammatical 

20 H. W. Smyth, A Greek Grammar (New York: American Book Co., 1916) 341. The 
statement quoted follows a statement almost identical to that made by Goodwin. 

21 Adolph Kaegi, A Short Grammar of Classical Greek (St. Louis: B. Herder, 
1914) 144. 

Ernest De Witt Burton, Syntax of Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek 
(Chicago: University of Chicago, 1897) 102. 

boyer: first class conditions 83 

corpus of first class conditions in the nt 

Reference Text Category 

1. Matt 4:3 Ei uioc; el xou 0eoO, eirce 'iva oi X-iOoi ouxoi I. 

dpxoi yevcovxai. 

If you are God's son, tell these stones to become 


2. Matt 4:6 Ei uid<; el xou 0eoO, pdX.e aeauxov Kdxar I. 

If you are God's son, cast yourself down. 

3. Matt 5:29 ei 8e 6 6(p0aX.u6g aou 6 Se^ioc; aKav5aX.i£ei oe, III.4 

e£eX.e auxov Kai fiaXe and aou- 

If your right eye offends you, pull it out 

and throw it away. 

4. Matt 5:30 ei f) Se^iti aou % ei P aKav8aX.i£ei ae, eKKo\|/ov III. 4 

auxf|v Kai pdX.e dno aou* 

If your right hand offends you, cut it off and 

throw it away. 

5. Matt 6:23 ei . . . xo (p(5q xo ev aoi gkoxoc, kaxiv, xo okoxoq III. 3 


If the light in you is darkness, how great [is] 
that darkness! 

6. Matt 6:30 ei . . . xov x6p xov T °0 dypou aiiuepov ovxa I. 

Kai aupiov ei<; KXipavov PaXXduevov 6 Oeoq 

oCxox; du<piewuaiv, ou noXXw uaA.X.ov uua<; 


If God so clothes the grass . . . will he not much 

rather [clothe] you? 

7. Matt 7:1 1 ei . . . uuei<; 7covr|poi ovxeq o'iSaxe Souaxa dya0d I. 

8i86vai xou; xeKvou; uuwv, nda© uaXX.ov 6 
Tiaxrjp uu&v 6 ev xoig oupavoii; Swaei dyaOd 
xot<; aixouoiv auxov. 

If you being evil know how to give good gifts to 
your children, much more will your heavenly 
father give good things to those who ask him. 

8. Matt 8:31 Ei eKPaXXeiq f\\iac„ drcoaxeiX-ov f^ua^ eiq xr\v III. 1 

dyeXnv xwv x°ip wv - 

If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine. 

9. Matt 10:25 ei xov oiKo8ea7r6xr*v Pee^ePouX. erceKaX-eaav, I. 

rcdacp uaX.X.ov xou<; oiKiaKou<; auxou. 

If they have called the house-master Beelzeboul, 

much more [will they do it to] his household 



10. Matt 11:14 Kai ei GeXexe Se^aaGai, auxoc, eaxiv ' HXiag 6 III. 4 

ueXXcov epxeoGai. 

If you are willing to accept [it, or him], he 

himself is Elijah who is going to come. 

11. Matt 12:26 ei 6 Eaxavac, xov Xaxavav eKpdXXei, e<p'eauxov II. 


If Satan casts out Satan, he has become divided 

against himself. 

12. Matt 12:27 et eyed ev Bee^epouX eicpdMco xd Saiudvia, II. 1 

oi uioi uuaiv ev xivi eKpdXXouaiv; 

If I by Beelzeboul cast out the demons, by whom 

do your sons cast them out? 

13. Matt 12:28 ev . . . ev rcveuuaxi 8eoC eyed eKpdXXo) xd I. 1 

oaiuovia, dpa ecpGaaev £<p' uuaq rj PaaiXeia 
xoO 9eou. 

If I by God's Spirit cast out the demons, then 
God's kingdom has come upon you. 

14. Matt 14:28 Kupie, ei au el, KeXeuadv ue eXGeiv rcpoc, ae III. 5 

fen! xd CSaxa - 

Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you 

on the water. 

15. Matt 16:24 E'i tic, GeXei oniaco uou eXGeiv, d7iapvr|ada0o) III. 4 

eauxov Kai dpdx© xov axaupov auxou Kai 

dKoXouGeixco uoi. 

If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny 

himself and lift up his cross and keep following 


16. Matt 17:4 ei GeXeu;, noif\oa) (58e xpetg OKr|vd<;, aoi uiav III. 4 

Kai Mcouaei uiav Kai'HXia uiav. 

If you wish, I will make here three booths, one 

for you . . . 

17. Matt 18:8 Ei 8e r| /eip aou fj 6 novq aou OKav5aXi£ei ae, III.4 

eKKoyov auxov Kai PdXe and aou - 

If your hand or foot offends you, cut it off and 

throw it away. 

18. Matt 18:9 ei 6 6(pGaXuoc, aou aKav5aXi£ei ae, e^eXe auxov III.4 

Kai PdXe and aou - 

If your eye offends you, pull it out and throw 

it away. 

19. Matt 18:28 'ArcdSoc, ei xi 6(peiXeic,. I. 

Pay [it] back, if you owe anything. 

Cf. w 27, 28; pair of opposites. 

boyer: first class conditions 


20. Matt 19:10 

21. Matt 19:17 

22. Matt 19:21 

23. Matt 22:45 

24. Matt 26:33 

25. Matt 26:39 

26. Matt 26:42 

27. Matt 27:40 

28. Matt 27:43 

29. Mark 3:26 

30. Mark 4:23 

Ei ouxcoc, eaxiv r^ aixia xou dvOpamou uexd xfj<; III. 5 
yuvaixdc,, ou auuxpepei yaufjaai. 
If the case of a man with his wife is so, it is not 
advantageous to marry. 

ei . . . OeXeii; ei<; xt)v £(or)v eiaeXOeiv, III.4 

xt|pr|aov xd<; evxoA.d<;. 

If you want to enter into life, keep the 


Ei QiXeiq xeXeioq elvai, urcaye n&'kr\o6v aou xd III. 4 
U7idpxovxa Kai doc, xoic, rcxcoxoig, Kai ££ei<; 
0r)aaupdv ev oupavoi<;, Kai Seupo dKoXouOei uoi. 
If you want to be perfect, go sell . . . give . . . and 
keep following me. 

ei . . . Aaoi8 KaXei auxov Kupiov, n&c, u(o<; I. 

auxou eaxiv; 

If David calls him Lord, how is he his Son? 

Ei rcdvxec; aKavSaXiaOrjaovxat ev aoi, eya> III.4 

ou8ercoxe aKav8aXia0T|aouai. 

If all shall be offended in you, I shall never be 


Ildxep uou, ei Suvaxov eaxiv, napeXOdxto an' III.2 2 
euou xo 7ioxt]piov xouxo* 
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass 
away from me. 

ndxep uou, ei ou Suvaxai xouxo rcapeXOeiv . . . III.2 2 

yevr|9T|X(o xo 0eXr|ud aou. 

My Father, if it is not possible that this pass . . . 

let your will come to pass. 

acoaov aeauxov, ei uio<; el xou 0eou, [Kai] II. 
Kaxdpr|0i drcd xou axaupou. 
Save yourself, if you are God's son, and come 
down from the cross. 

puadaOco vuv ei GeXei auxdv 

Let him deliver him now, if he wants him. 

ei 6 Zaxavai; dveaxr) ecp' eauxov Kai epepia0r|, 
ou 8uvaxai oxfjvai 6.XXa x^Xoq e^ei. 
If Satan has risen up against himself and has 
become divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. 

ei xic, e/ei c5xa dKoueiv dKouexco. 

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. 




Cf. w 39, 42; pair of alternative possibilities. 



31. Mark 8:12 

32. Mark 8:34 

33. Mark 9:22 

34. Mark 9:23 

35. Mark 9:35 

36. Mark 9:42 

37. Mark 11:22, 

38. Mark 11:25 

39. Mark 13:22 

40. Mark 14:29 

ei 5oQr\aexai xfj ysveq. xauxr) ar|U£iov. 
[May something terrible happen to me] if a sign 
shall be given to this generation. 

Ei tic, GeXei 6kioo) uou e^Geiv, &7iapvT|o-da9(o 

fcauxov Kal dpdxto xov axaupov atixoO Kai 

dKoXouGEixco not. 

If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny 

himself and lift up his cross and keep following 




e'i xi 5uvt), Por)8r|aov fjuiv CT7rX.aYxvia8el(; 

£cp' r^uac;. 

If you can [do] anything, show mercy and help us. 

To Ei 8uvt) — 7idvxct Suvaxd xw maxEuovxi. — 4 

[Watch that expression] "If you can" — all things 

are possible to the one who trusts. 

E'i xi<; GeXei kp&toc, elvai gaxat rcdvxcov eaxaxoi; III.4 
Kal rcdvxcov 8idKovo<;. 

If anyone wants to be first he shall be last of 
all and servant of all. 

Kd>.6v eoxiv auxw ud?*Aov ei 7tepiiceixai uuXog II. 
6viko<; 7iepl xov xpdxr)X,ov auxoO Kai Pe|3X.r|xai 
eic, xnv GdXaaaav. 

It is better for him if a millstone is placed 
around his neck and he has been cast into the sea. 

Ei e^exe rciaxiv Geou, dur^v Xeyco uuiv Sxi og dv III. 3 
einr\ xqi opei xouxw, . . . Kai ur) 5iaKpi6fj . . . 
dXXd Triaxeuri . . . £axai auxw. 
If you have faith in God, I tell you that whoever 
says to this mountain . . . and does not doubt 
. . . but believes . . ., it shall be his. 

d<piexE ei xi e^exe Kaxd xtvog, III. 3 

Forgive, if you have anything against anyone. 
npoq xo drco7tA.avav, Ei Suvaxov, xou<; ekXekxoui;. II. 5 
In order to lead astray, if [it is] possible, the 
elect ones. 

Ei Kai k&vtec, aKav5aXia0rjaovxai, aXX ouk Eyc6. III. 2 
Even if all shall be offended, yet [will] 
not I. 

An elliptical Semitic idiom expressing an oath. Cf. Heb. 3:11, 4:3, 5. 
Not a conditional sentence, but a reference or quote of part of the preceding 
sentence. No separate classification given. 

5 Not a complete conditional sentence, but an idiomatic parenthetic insertion into 
a purpose clause. 

boyer: first class conditions 87 

41. Mark 14:35 Kal 7tpoar|uxexo 'iva ei Suvaxov eaxw Trape^Grj III.2 6 

drc' auxoO f\ copa, 

He kept praying that, if it is possible, the hour 

might pass away from him. 

42. Luke 4:3 Ei uio<; el tou GeoO, eine x<5 XiGw xouxw 'iva I. 

yevr|xai dpxoq. 

If you are God's son, tell this stone to become 


43. Luke 4:9 Ei vide, el toO 0eoO, pdA.e aeauxov evxeOGev I. 


If you are God's son, throw yourself down from 


44. Luke 6:32 Kal ei dyaTtdxe xouc dyaTiaivxai; upag, noia uuiv III. 4 

Xdpi<; eaxiv; 

And if you love those who love you, what sort of 

credit is it to you? 

45. Luke 9:23 Ei xi<; Qekei oniow uou epxeoGai, dpvr|ada0(o III.4 

eauxov Kal dpdxto xov axaupdv auxou KaG' 
r^uepav, Kal dKoXouGeixoo uoi. 
If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny 
himself ... lift up . . . and keep following me. 

46. Luke 11:8 ei Kal ou Scoaei auxm dvaaxdc; 5id xo elvai I. 

(piXov auxou, 5id ye xtiv dva(5eiav auxou 
eyepGeic; Sweet auxw Sawv xPtlC 61 - 
Even if he will not arise and give to him because 
he is his friend, yet because of his shamelessness 
he will arise and give to him as much as he has 
need of. 

47. Luke 11:13 ei . . . v\ielc, rcovripol wrdpxovxeg o'i5axe 56uaxa I. 

dyaGd 5i56vai xoig xbkvok; uucov, Ttoaw ud^Xov 
6 7iaxr)p [6] el; oupavou 8(boet nveuua fiytov 
xolq aixoOaiv aux6v. 

If you being evil know how to give good gifts to 
your children, much more your heavenly Father 
will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. 

48. Luke 11:18 ei . . . 6 Saxavdg e(p' eauxov SteueptaGr), 7ico<; II. 

axaGt|aexai fj PaaiXeia auxou; 

If Satan has been divided against himself, how 

shall his kingdom stand? 

49. Luke 11:19 ei . . . eyed ev BeeXt^ePouX eKpaAAto xd Satuovta, II. 7 

oi uiol uucov ev xivi eKPaXXouaiv; 

If I by Beelzeboul cast out the demons, by whom 

do your sons cast them out? 

Not a complete conditional sentence, but an idiomatic parenthetic insertion into 
a purpose clause. 

Cf. w 19, 20; pair of opposites. 


50. Luke 11:20 ei . . . ev SaKxu^co 9eou feK(3dXA.a) id 8aipovia, I. 7 

dpa ecpOaaev ecp' upaq I s ! PaaiXeia xou 8eou. 
If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then 
God's kingdom has come upon you. 

51. Luke 11:36 ei . . . to ocopd aou 6Xov cpcoxeivov, pn, e^ov III. 3 

pepoq xi aKoxeivov, eaxai (pcoxeivov 6Xov <bc, 
oxav 6 Xuxvoq xfj daxpa7rrj cpcoxi^rj ae. 
If your whole body is bright ... it shall be 
wholly bright, as when . . . 

52. Luke 12:26 ei ouv oOSe eXdxioxov 5uvaa9e, xi rrepl xcov I. 

Xotrccov pepipvdxe; 

If you are not able [to do] the littlest thing, why 

are you anxious about the rest? 

53. Luke 12:28 ei 5e ev dypcp xov xdpxov ovxa orjpepov Kal I. 

aupiov eic, K^ipavov paXXopevov 6 0eo<; ouxcoq 
dpcpid^et, 7rdaco paXXov upa<;, 6X1767110x01. 
If God clothes the grass . . . much more [will he 
clothe] you. 

54. Luke 14:26 E'i xk; ep/exai 7tpo<; pe Ktxi ou piaei xov rcaxepa III.4 

eauxou Kal . . . ou Suvaxai elvai pou paOrixriq. 
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his 
own father and ... he cannot be my disciple. 

55. Luke 16:11 ei ouv ev xcp dSucco papcovg, tuoxoI ouk eyeveaOe, III. 4 

xo dXr|0iv6v xiq uptv maxeuaet; 
If you have not become faithful in the 
unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you 
the true [wealth]? 

56. Luke 16:12 ei ev xcp dXXoxpicp tuoxoi ouk eyeveaOe, xo III.4 

upexepov xiq 5cbaei upiv; 
If you have not become faithful in that which 
belongs to another, who will give to you that 
which is your own? 

57. Luke 16:31 Ei Mcouaeox; Kal xcov 7tpocpr)xcov ouk dKououaiv, III. 4 

ouS' edv xi<; £k veKpcov dvaaxfj TteiaOr^aovxai. 
If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, they 
will not even be persuaded if someone should 
rise from the dead. 

58. Luke 17:2 XuoixeXel auxco ei XiGoq puXiKoq TtepiKeixai nepl II. 

xov xpdxt|Xov auxou Kal Sppurxai eic, xr)v 


It is better for him if a millstone is put around 

his neck and he has been cast into the sea. 

Cf. w 19, 20; pair of opposites. 

boyer: first class conditions 89 

59. Luke 17:6 Ei £%£xe rciaxtv (be, kokkov aivdTreax;, eXeyexe III.4 8 

fiv xfj auKauivco [xauxrj], 'EKpt£(66nxi Kal 
cpuxeuGnxi ev xfj Qakaaor\- Kal imfJKooaev 
av uulv. 

If you have faith like a mustard-seed, you would 
be saying to this tree . . . and it would be 
hearkening to you. 

60. Luke 18:4,5 Ei Kal xov Geov ov (poPouuai ou5e dvGpcorcov I. 

evxpercouai, 8id ye xo napexeiv uoi kotiov xf|v 
Xiipav xauxr|v eK5iKrjaa> auxrjv, 
Even if I do not fear God ... yet because ... I 
will give this widow justice. 

61. Luke 19:8 ei xivo<; xi eauKO(pdvxr|aa dnoSiScoui I. 


If I have cheated anyone out of anything, I am 

paying it back four-fold. 

62. Luke 22:42 ndxep, ei PouXei rcapeveyKe xouxo xo III. 2 

noxrjpiov d.n' euoir . . . 

Father, if you are willing take away this cup 

from me. 

63. Luke 22:67 Ei ov el 6 Xpioxo^, eircdv f|uiv. II. 

If you are the Messiah, tell us. 

64. Luke 23:31 ei ev x© uypw £uXq> xauxa jroioOaiv, I. 

ev xd> £op<5 xi yevr|xai; 

If they are doing these things in the green tree, 

what may happen in the dry [tree] 

65. Luke 23:35 "AkXovq gacoaev, ocoadxco eauxdv, ei oux6<; II. 

eaxiv 6 Xpiaxdi; xoO GeoO 6 eKXeKxo^. 

"He saved others, let him save himself, if this is 

God's Messiah." 

66. Luke 23:37 Ei au el 6 PaaiXeix; x<5v ' IouSaiwv, awoov II. 


If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself. 

67. John 1:25 Ti oov Pa7txi£ei<; ei ov ouk el 6 Xpiaxog III. 5 

Why then do you baptize if you are not the 
Messiah . . .? 

68. John 3:12 ei xd eTriyeia elnov uuTv Kai ou rciaxeuexe, I. 

n&q edv eina) uulv xd ercoupdvia maxeuaexe; 
If I told you earthly things and you do not 
believe, how will you believe . . .? 


A mixed condition; the protasis is first class by form, the apodosis is second 


69. John 5:47 ei 5e xoi<; eiceivou ypdppaaiv ou Ttiaxeuexe, I. 

Jitog xoi<; epoii; fir\\xaaiv 7uaxeuaexe; 

If you do not believe that one's writings, how 

will you believe my words? 

70. John 7:4 ei xaOxa rtoteli;, (pavepcoaov aeauxdv xa> III. 5 


If you are doing these things, show yourself to 

the world. 

71. John 7:23 ei nepixo[ir\v XapPdvei dvOpcoitoq ev aaPPdxcp I. 

. . . feuoi x°^-dxe oxl o^-ov dvOpamov uyifj 
inoit]aa ev aappdxco; 

If a man gets circumcision on the Sabbath . . . 
are you angry with me because I have made the 
whole man well on the Sabbath? 

72. John 8:39 Ei xeicva xou 'Appadu eaxe, xd &pya xou II. 9 

'Appadu ercoieixe; 

If you are Abraham's children, you would be 

doing Abraham's works. 

73. John 8:46 ei dA.r|0eiav Xeya), 5id xi upet<; ou I. 

rciaxeuexe uot; 

If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me? 

74. John 10:24 ei au el 6 Xpiaxog, eirte f|uiv 7tappr|aia. III. 5 

If you are the Messiah, tell us boldly. 

75. John 10:35, ei eiceivout; elrcev Geouq npoc, ovc, 6 Xoyoc, xou I. 

36 9eou eyevexo, . . . 6v 6 naxr]p fiyiaaev Kai 
drceaxeiXev eiq xov Koapov upei<; Xeyexe oxi 
BXaa(pr|pei<;, 6xi eircov, Yid<; xoC OeoC eipi; 
If he called them "gods" to whom God's 
word came ... do you say "you blaspheme" 
to me whom the Father set apart and sent into 
the world, because I said, "I am God's 

76. John 10:37 ei ou rcoito xd gpya xou 7taxpo<; uou, ur) II. 10 

Tuaxeuexe uor 

If I do not do the works of my father, do not 

believe me. 

77. John 10:38 ei 8e noiw, k&v euoi ur) Tiiaxeunxe, xoic, £pyoi<; I. 10 


But if I do [do the works of my father], . . . 

believe my works. 

A mixed condition; the protasis is first class by form, the apodosis is second 

10 Cf. w 37, 38; pair of opposites. 

boyer: first class conditions 91 

78. John 11:12 Kupie, ei KeKoipr|xai acoOrjaexai. I. 

Lord, if he is asleep he will be safe. 

79. John 13:14 ei ouv eyto eVivya upcov xouq noSac, 6 I. 

Kupio<; k<x! 6 5i8daKaXog, Kal opeiq 
6cpeiX.exe aXXr\X(av vircxeiv xou<; noSac,- 
If I . . . have washed your feet, you also ought 
to keep washing one another's feet. 

80. John 13:17 ei xauxa o'iSaxe, uaicdpiot eaxe edv jrotfjxe III. 3 


If you know these things, you are blessed . . . 

81. John 13:32 ei 6 8eo<; eSo^doGrj ev adxw Kai 6 Oedq I. 

So^daei auxov 

If God has been glorified in him, God also will 

glorify him. 

82. John 14:7 ei eyvcbicaxe ue, Kai xov rcaxepa pou yv&ceaQe- I. 

If you know me, you will also know my father. 

83. John 14:11 ei 5e pr|, Sid xd epya auxd maxeuexe. III. 5 

If not [if you do not believe me for these 
reasons], believe me on account of the works 

84. John 15:18 Ei 6 Koopoi; upa<; piaei, yivcboKexe oxi I. 

spe npcoxov upcov pepiar|Kev. 

If the world hates you, you know that it has 

hated me first. 

85. John 15:20 si epe eSico^av, Kai upac; Sub^ouaiv I. 11 

If they perecuted me, they will persecute you too. 

86. John 15:20 ei xov Xdyov pou exrjpriaav, Kai xov upexepov II. 11 


If they have kept my word, they will keep 

yours too. 

87. John 18:8 ei oCv epe ^rjxeixe, d<pexe xouxou^ U7idyeiv I. 

If you are seeking me, permit these to depart. 

88. John 18:23 Ei KaKtog eXdA.r|aa, papxupr|aov nepi xou II. 12 


If I have spoken in an evil way, testify of the evil. 

89. John 18:23 ei 5e KaXffii;, xi pe oepeic,; I. 12 

But if [I have spoken] in a good way, why do 
you beat me? 

11 Cf. rest of verse; pair of opposites. 

12 Cf. rest of verse; pair of opposites. 


90. John 20:15 Kupie, ei au epdaxaaac, auxov, eine poi ttoO III. 5 

e0r|Ka<; auxov Kdyoi) auxov dpco. 

Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where 

you have put him, and I will take him away. 

91. Acts 4:9,10 ei r^peti; aqpepov dvaKpivopeBa eni I. 

euepyeaig dvGpcimou daOevoug, . . . 
yvcoaxov Saxco naaiv upiv Kai navxi xra 
\a<3 'Iapar^X oxi . . . 

If we are being judged concerning a kindness to 
a sick man ... let it be known to you all . . . 

92. Acts 5:39 ei 8e eK Oeou eaxiv, ou 8uvrjaea0e III. 5 

KaxaXuaav auxoui; 

But if it is of God, you will not be able to 

stop them. 

93. Acts 11:17 ei ouv xr^v ior|v Scopedv gScoKev auxotq 6 I. 13 

Geo<; (be, Kai f^uiv . . . eyco xi<; rjpr|v 8uvaxo<; 
KcoXuaai xov Oedv; 

If God has given to them an equal gift as also to 
us . . . who was I [to be] able to hinder God? 

94. Acts 16:15 Ei KeKpixaxe pe 7uaxr)v xw Kupicp eivai, I. 

eiaeXOovxec, elq xov oikov pou pevexe 1 . . . 
If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, 
come into my house and stay. 

95. Acts 18:15 ei 5e £r|xr|paxd eaxiv nepi Xoyou Kai dvopdxcov I. 

Kai vopou xou Ka9' upa<;, ovyeaOe auxoi* 
If there are questions about ... a law of yours, 
you shall see [to them] yourselves. 

96. Acts 19:38 ei pev ouv Aqpqxpiog Kai oi auv aux<5 III.5 14 

xe^vixai e^ouai npoc, xiva Xoyov, dyopaioi 

dyovxai Kai dvOuTtaxoi eioiv eyKaXeixcooav 


If Demetrius and . . . have a complaint against 

someone, courts are being held and there are 

officials; let them bring charges against one 


97. Acts 19:39 ei 5e xi rcepaixepco eni^r|xeixe, ev xfj evvdpcp III.5 14 

eKK^rioia erciXuGrjaexai. 

But if you are looking for something more, it 

shall be settled in the lawful assembly. 

98. Acts 23:9 ei 8e nveupa eXaXtjaev aux(5 fj dyyeA.o<; — . 1 1 1. 5 

But if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him — . 

3 In form this resembles a second class condition (past tense of indicative), but it 
is a rhetorical question which accounts for the past tense (potential imperfect) in the 
apodosis, and it is not contrary to fact. 

14 Cf. w 38, 39; pair of alternative possibilities. 

boyer: first class conditions 93 

99. Acts 25:5 ei xi eaxiv ev xcp dvSpi dxonov III. 5 

Karr| yoperccoaav auxou. 

If there is anything a-miss about the man, let 
them bring accusation against him. 

100. Acts 25:11 ei uev ouv dSiKco Kai d^iov Oavdxou nenpax& ti, II. 15 

ou 7tapauo0uai to drcoOaveiv 

If I am wrong and have done anything worthy of 

death, I do not refuse to die. 

101. Acts 25:11 ei 8e ouSev eaxiv c6v ouxoi Kaxr|yopouaiv uou, I. 15 

ou5eic, ue 5uvaxai auxoic, xapio-aaOar 

But if there is nothing of which these accuse me, 

no one can give me over to them. 

102. Acts 26:8 xi dniaxov Kpivexai nap' uuiv ei 6 Oedc, I. 

veicpouc, eyeipei; 

Why is it considered by you an unbelievable 

thing if God raises the dead? 

103. Rom 2:17-21 Ei 5e ao 'Iou5aio<; eTrovoud^rj Kai eTtavarcaur) I. 

. . . Kai Kau/doai . . . Kai yivcbcnceic; . . . Kai 
8oKiud£ei<; . . . nenoiQac, xe . . . — 6 ouv SiSdoKwv 
exepov aeauxov ou 5i5daKevi;; . . . 
If you are named a Jew ... — , you who teach 
another, do you not teach yourself? 

104. Rom 3:3 xi ydp ei ^juaxr|adv xiveq; ... I. 

What [shall we conclude] if some did not believe? 

105. Rom 3:5 ei 5e ^ d5uda f)ucov Oeou oiKaioauvr|v I. 

auviaxr|aiv, xi epouuev; . . . 

If our unrighteousness recommends God's 

righteousness, what shall we say? 

106. Rom 3:7 ei ydp f) dX,r|0eia xou 9eou ev xw eu<3 yeua^iaxi I. 

enepiaaeuaev eig xr^v 56^av auxou, xi exi Kay© 
(be, duapx(oA.6(;; 
If God's truth has abounded by my lie unto his 
glory, why am I still judged as a sinner? 

107. Rom 3:29,30 vai Kai eOvaiv, e'ircep elc, 6 Oedc,, ... I. 

Yes, [he is God] also of the gentiles, if indeed 
God is one. 

108. Rom 4:2 ei ydp 'Appadu el; gpycov e8iKaic&0r|, e/ei II. 

Kauxrma - 

If Abraham was justified from works, he has a 

ground for boasting. 

5 Cf. rest of verse; pair of opposites. 


109. Rom 4:14 ei yap oi ek vouou KXripovopoi, KEKEvcoxai f| II. 

niaxic, Kai Kaxripyrixai r\ tnayyekia- 

If those who are of the law [are] heirs, faith has 

become empty and the promise has become 


110. Rom 5:10 ev yap fexOpoi ovtec, Kaxr|>Adyr|U£v xw 0£(3 5id I. 

xou Oavdxou xou uiou auxou, noXX& [idXXov 
KaxaX.?iay£vx£<; aa>6r|a6u£8a ev xfj ^corj auxou* 
If while ... we were reconciled . . . much more 
now ... we shall be saved . . . 

111. Rom 5:15 si ydp xw xou kvoq napanxwpaxi oi noXXoi I. 

d7t£0avov, koXX& uaAAov f) xdpiq xou Geou Kai 
fj 5(0 psd fev xdpixi xfj xoO bvoc, dvOpdmou 'Inaou 
Xpiaxou eiq xouq izoXXovc, ETTEpiaaEuaEv. 
If by . . . the many died, much more has the 
grace of God . . . abounded . . . 

112. Rom 5:17 ei ydp xw xou Evog napaTtxwpaxi 6 9dvaxo<; I. 

EPaaiXEuoEv 5id xou kvoq, noXX& [laWov oi 
xfjv rtEpiaaEiav Tfjg x a P lTOl 5 Ka * T *K ScopEdg 
xfjq SiKaioauvn.<; ?iau|3dvovx£<; ev £cofj 
|3aaiX£uaouaiv 5id xou kvoq ' Ir|oou Xpiaxou. 
If by . . . death reigned . . . much more those . . . 
shall reign . . . 

113. Rom 6:5 ei ydp auucpuxoi yEyovauEV x(3 ouoicbuaxi xou I. 

Oavdxou auxou, dXAd Kai xfjg dvaaxdoEax; 

£a6u£0a - 

If we have become fellow-sharers in . . . his 

death, certainly also we shall be [fellow-sharers 

in] his resurrection. 

114. Rom 6:8 ei 8e d7t£0dvou£v ouv Xpiaxfi, TuaxfiuopEV oxi I. 

Kai au^fjaouEv auxqr 

If we died with Christ, ... we shall also live 

with him. 

115. Rom 7:16 ei 5e o ou OeXco xouxo rcoi<3, auu(pr|pi x<3 voucp I. 

oxi KaX.6g. 

If I do what I do not want [to do], I am agreeing 

with the law that it is good. 

116. Rom 7:20 ei 5e o ou QeX(o Eyed xouxo ttoiq, oukexi I. 

£yw KaxEpyd^opai auxo 6.XX6. fj oiKouaa ev 
fepoi duapxia. 

If I do what I do not want [to do], I am no 
longer doing it but the sin which dwells in me 
[is doing it]. 

boyer: first class conditions 95 

117. Rom 8:9 upeiq 8e ouk taxk ev aapKi &Xka ev 7tveupotTt, III.3 16 

e'ircep nveupa 6eo0 oikei ev upiv. 

You are not in flesh but in spirit, if indeed 

God's Spirit dwells in you. 

118. Rom 8:9 ei 86 xiq rcveupct XpioxoC ouk e^ei, ouxog ouk III.3 16 

eariv autou. 

If anyone does not have Christ's Spirit, this one 

does not belong to him. 

119. Rom 8:10 ei 8e Xpiaxoc, ev up.iv, to pev awpa veKpov Sid III. 3 

dpapTtav, to 8e Tcveupa C,(£>r) Sid StKatoauvnv. 
If Christ is in you, the body [is] dead . . . but 
the spirit [is] life . . . 

120. Rom 8:11 ei Se to rcveuuci tou eyeipavTOt; Tdv'Inaouv ck III. 3 

veicpcov oiKei ev upiv, 6 eyeipaq [tov] XpioTov 
ck veKpcov ^cpoTioiriaei Kai Td 0vr|Td acbuaTa 
upcov . . . 

If the Spirit . . . dwells in you, the One who 
raised Christ . . . will make alive your mortal 
bodies . . . 

121. Rom 8:13 ei ydp Kcrrd odpKa £fJTe \itkXexe drcoOvrjaiceiv, III.3 7 

If you live after the flesh you are going to die. 

122. Rom 8:13 ei Se 7rveuucm Tdc; Jipd^eu; tou ocopaTog III.3 17 

OavaTOUTe £r)aea9e. 

But if by the Spirit you keep putting to death the 

practices of the body, you shall live. 

123. Rom 8:17 ei 8e Teicva, Kai KA.r|pov6uor I. 

If [we are] children, [we are] also heirs. 

124. Rom 8:17 auyKXrjpovopoi 8e XpiaTou, eutep auuraxaxouev I. 

[We are] fellow-heirs of Christ, if indeed we are 
suffering with him. 

125. Rom 8:25 ei 8e 5 ou pAircouev eXrci^ouev, 8i' uKopovnq I. 


If we hope for that which we do not see, we wait 

for it through patience. 

126. Rom 8:31 ei 6 Qeoq Cmep r)pcov, ti<; kcxO' ripdiv; I. 

If God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 

16 Cf. rest of verse; pair of alternative possibilities. 

17 Cf. rest of verse; pair of alternative possibilities. 


127. Rom 9:22 ei 8e GeAxov 6 Qeoc, fevSei^aaGai tt\v dpyrjv Kai I. 

yvtopiaai xo 8uvaxov auxoO fjvEyKEv ev no\\f\ 

uaKpoGuuia o-keut) opy^ Kaxn.pxiau£va eIc, 


If God, wishing to . . . endured . . . vessels of 

wrath . . ., — . 

128. Rom 11:6 ei 8e x a P m > oukexi et, gpycov, ... I. 

If [it is] by grace, [it is] no longer from works. 

129. Rom 11:12 ei 8e xo napdnxcoua auxwv 7tXo0xo<; koouou Kai I. 

xo auxwv nkomoc, eGvwv, Ttoacp udXXov 
xo nXripcoua auxfiv. 

If their fall [is] the wealth of the world and their 
failure [is] the wealth of the gentiles, much more 
[will be] their fulness. 

130. Rom 11:13, xf)v 8iaKoviav uou So^d^co, ev ikoc, rcapa£r|Xa>aco III.4 

14 uou xf|v adpKa Kai ocbaco xivd<; ££ aOxcov. 

I magnify my ministry, if perhaps I shall provoke 
. . . and save some. 

131. Rom 11:15 £i yap I s ) dno|k)Xf| auxcov KaxaXXayf| Koauou, I. 

xiq f| np6cXr]\i\^ic; ei un, C,a>f\ ek veKpcov; 
If their setting aside [is] the world's reconcilia- 
tion, what [shall] their acceptance [be] except 
life . . .? 

132. Rom 11:16 Ei 8e f\ anapxA dyia, Kai xo (pupaua* I. 

If the first-fruits [are/ were] holy, the batch of 
dough also [will be holy]. 

133. Rom 11:16 Kai ei fj $iC,a dyia, Kai oi KXdSoi. I. 

If the root [is/ was] holy, the branches also [will 
be holy]. 

134. Rom 11:17, Ei 86 xiveg xcov KXdScov e^EKXdo6r)oav, au 86 I. 

18 dypifiXxaoc; wv £V£K£vpia9n.<; ev auxoic; Kai 
auyKoivwvog xfjq £>iCn,<; xfjq 7u6xr)xog xfj<; eX.aiag 
eyevou, ur| KaxaKauxto x<3v KXdStov 
If some of the branches have been broken off 
and you . . . have been grafted in ... do not 
boast against the branches. 

135. Rom 11:18 ei 8e KaxaKauxdaai, ou au xnv (bi£av Paaxd^eig III. 4 

aXka t) (M£a oe. 

But if you boast against [them], you are not 

supporting the root, but the root [is supporting] 


136. Rom 11:21 ei ydp 6 6ed<; xuv Kaxd (puaiv K>.d8cov ouk I. 

e<peiaaxo, ou8e aoO (peiaExai. 

If God did not spare . . . neither will he 

spare you. 


137. Rom 11:24 ei ydp au £k xfj<; Kara cpuaiv t%eK6nr\c, I. 

dypieXaiou Kai rcapd <puaiv eveKevxpia9r|g ei<; 
KaX.Xi6X.aiov, noaca uaXXov otixoi ol Kara <pumv 
eyKevxpiaGrjaovxai xfj i8ia eXaig. 
If you were cut off . . . and were grafted in . . . 
much more shall these ... be grafted into . . . 

138. Rom 12:18 ei Suvaxov, xo ei; ouaw uexd rtdvxcov dvOpconwv III.2 

eiprjveuovxeq - 

If possible being at peace with all . . . 

139. Rom 13:9 ei xiq exepa evxoXrj, ev x<p X6y<p xouxw I. 


If [there is] any other commandment, it is 

summed up in this . . . 

140. Rom 14:15 ev ydp Std Ppcoua 6 d5eX(po<; aou Xuneixai, III. 4 

ouKEXt Kaxd dyd7rr|v nepinaTelq. 

If your brother is being grieved because of food, 

you are no longer walking according to love. 

141. Rom 15:27 ei ydp xoic, nveuuaxiicoic; aoxdiv eKowcbvr|oav I. 

xd MGvn., 6<pe(Xouaiv Kai ev xoig aapKiKoit; 
Xetxoopyfjaai auxoiq. 

If the gentiles have become sharers in their 
spiritual things, they ought also to minister to 
them in fleshly things. 

142. 1 Cor 3:12,13 ei Se xu; e7rouco8ouei eni xov SeueXiov xpuoov III.4 18 

. . . eKdoxou xd epyov tpavepov yevr|oexai, 
If anyone builds on the foundation gold . . ., 
each one's work will be manifest. 

143. 1 Cor 3:14 ei xivoc, xd epyov uevei 6 e7ioiKo86pr)aev, III.4 18 

uiaGov Xt|pv|/exaf 

If anyone's work abides ... he shall receive 


144. 1 Cor 3:15 ei xuooc, xd epyov KaxaKarjaexai, £r|ui(fl0rjaexai, III.4 18 

auxd<; 8e aa)0t|oexai, ouxax; 5e (be, Sid nvpoq. 
If anyone's work shall be burned, he shall suffer 
loss, but he himself shall be saved . . . 

145. 1 Cor 3:17 ei xic, xdv vadv xou 9eoC (pGeipei, (pBepei xoOxov III.4 18 

6 Geoc/ 

If anyone corrupts God's temple, God will 

corrupt him. 

18 Cf. vv 14, 15. These four examples represent two pairs of alternative possibilities; 
the first and fourth ("if anyone builds ... or destroys . . .") and the second and third a 
sub-classification of the first ("if anyone builds gold ... or wood . . ."). 


146. 1 Cor 3:18 ei xi<; 8okeI aocpoc, elvai ev uuiv ev xw aidivi III.4 

xouxw, ucopoc, yeveaGoo, 'iva yevr|xat aocpog. 
If anyone thinks he is wise ... let him become 
a fool . . . 

147. 1 Cor 4:7 ei 8e Kcti eXafiec,, xi Kauxdaai (be, \if\ XaPcbv; I. 

If you have received [what you have], why do 
you boast . . .? 

148. 1 Cor 6:2 icai ei ev uuiv Kpivexai 6 k6ouoc„ dvd^ioi eaxe I. 

icpixripicflv eXaxioxtov; 

If the world is being judged by you, are you 

unworthy of the lesser courts? 

149. 1 Cor 7:9 ei 8e ouk eyKpaxeuovxai yauriadxcoaav, III.4 

If they are not controllong themselves, let them 
get married. 

150. 1 Cor 7:12 ei tic, &beX<pd<; yuvaixa e^ei dmaxov, Kai aom, III.4 1 

auveuSoKei oikeiv uex' atixoO, un, d(piexco auxr|v 
If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is 
pleased to stay with him, let him not send 
her away. 

151. 1 Cor 7:13 Kai yuvr) ei xi<; 'i%zx dvSpa drciaxov, Kai ouxog III.4 1 

auveuSoKei oIkeiv uex' aoxfjc,, \ir\ dcpiexco xov 


If any wife has an unbelieving husband and he is 

pleased to stay with her, let her not send him 


152. 1 Cor 7:15 ei 8e 6 aniaxoq x w P^ eTai » /(Dpi^eaGar III.4 1 

But if the unbelieving husband departs, let him 

153. 1 Cor 7:21 &Xk' ei Kai Sovaaai eXeuGepoc, yeveaGai, III. 2 

ud>Aov xPA aai - 

But if you are able to become free, use it rather. 

154. 1 Cor 7:36 Ei 8e xic, daxriuovelv ini rr\v rcapGevov auxou III. 4 

voui^ei ... 8 BeXei rcoieixar . . . 
If anyone thinks he is acting shamefully towards 
his virgin ... let him do what he wants; he is 
not sinning; let them be married. 

155. 1 Cor 8:2 e'i xi<; 8oKei eyvcoKevai xi, outcw gyvco KaGaic, III.3 2 

Set yvcovar 

If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he has 

not yet come to know as he ought to know. 

Cf. w 12, 13, 15; set of three alternative possibilities. 
Cf. w 2, 3; pair of alternative possibilities. 

boyer: first class conditions 99 

156. 1 Cor 8:3 ei 8e xiq ayanq xov Geov, ouxo<; eyvcoaxcu III.3 20 

urc ' auxoO. 

If anyone loves God, he has become known 

to him. 

157. 1 Cor 8:5,6 icai yap e'ircep eiaiv Xeyouevoi Geoi . . . aW I. 

n,uiv e\<; Geoi; 6 rcaxrjp, . . . 

Even if there are those who are called gods . . . 

yet for us [there is] one God, the Father . . . 

158. 1 Cor 8:13 Siorcep ei Ppcoua atcav8aA.i£ei xov dSeX.cpov uou, III. 3 

ou un, cpdyco Kpea eic; xov aicova, . . . 

If food offends my brother, I shall never eat 

flesh, lest . . . 

159. 1 Cor 9:2 ei ttlXoiq ouk etui anocxoXoc,, aXkd ye tiuiv eiur II. 

If I am not an apostle to others, yet certainly 
I am to you. 

160. 1 Cor 9:11 ei r^ueii; uuiv xd 7rveuuaxiK& ecmeipauev, I. 

ueya . . .; 

If we have sowed to you spiritual things, [is it] a 

great thing . . .? 

161. 1 Cor 9:11 ueya ei f^uei^ uucov xd aapKtKd Gepioouev; III. I 21 

[Is it] a great thing, if we shall reap your fleshly 

162. 1 Cor 9:12 ei dXkoi xfjg uucov e^oixriac; uexexouatv, ou I. 

uaXXov f)[ielc,; 

If others share authority over you, do not 

we more? 

163. 1 Cor 9:17 ei ydp eiccov xouxo Ttpdaoco, uiaGdv e/co- III.4 22 

If I do this willingly, I have a reward. 

164. 1 Cor 9:17 ei 8e cikcov, oiicovouiav 7ie7riaxeuuai. III.4 22 

But if [I do this] unwillingly, I have been 
entrusted with a stewardship. 

165. 1 Cor 10:27 ei xi<; KaXet uua<; xcov dnioxtov tcai GeXexe III. 2 

nopeueaGav, nav xd rcapaxiGeuevov u^iiv eoGiexe 
^rl8ev dvaKpivovxeg 5id xrjv auvei8r|aiv. 
If anyone . . . invites you [to dinner] and you 
want to go, eat all that is put before you asking 
no questions . . . 

20 Cf. w 2, 3; pair of alternative possibilities. 
Note that this and the next example are two apodoses, both of which relate to 
the same clause as apodosis. 

Cf. rest of verse; pair of alternative possibilities. 


166. 1 Cor 10:30 ei eyco xdpm uex&xco, xi (3Xaa(pr|uo0uai wtep III.4 

ou kytii euxapiaxa>; 

If I partake [of the food] with thanks, why am 

I spoken evil of . . .? 

167. 1 Cor 11:6 ei yap ou KaxaXurcxexat yuvrj, Kai KeipdaOw III. 4 

If a woman does not wear a covering, let her 
also have her hair cut off. 

168. 1 Cor 11:6 si 8e aiaxpov yuvauci xo KeipaaGai fj ^upaaOai, I. 


If it is shameful for a woman to have her hair 

cut off or to have it shaved, let her wear a 


169. 1 Cor 11:16 Ei 86 xiq SoKei (piXoveucoi; elvat, fjuei<; xotauxr)v III. 5 

auvrjGeiav ouk e%ouev, 

If anyone seems to be argumentative, we do not 

have such a custom. 

170. 1 Cor 11:34 ei xic, neiva, ev oikg) eaOtexco, III.4 

If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home. 

171. 1 Cor 14:5 uei^cov 8e 6 rcpocprixeucov fj 6 lal&v yhtitGcaic,, III.4 23 

eKxoq ei urj 8iepur)veur|, 'iva r\ &KKXr\csia 
oiKoooufjv Xdpr). 

The one who prophesies is greater than the one 
who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets . . . 

172. 1 Cor 14:27 etxe yXcbaar) xi<; XaXei, Kaxti 8uo fj xo TtXeiaxov III. 1 

xpeii;, Kai dvd uepog, Kai el<; Siepunveuexar 
And if anyone speaks in a tongue, [let it be] by 
two or at most three . . . 

173. 1 Cor 14:35 ei 8e xi uaGeiv OeXouaw, ev o'ikco xouq i8iou<; III.l 

dv8pa<; enepcoxdxcaaav, 

If they wish to learn anything, let them question 

their own husbands at home. 

174. 1 Cor 14:37 Ei xi<; Sokci 7rpo(prjxr|<; elvai fj rcveuuaxiKoi;, III. 3 

eniyivwoKexa) S ypd<pa> uuiv oxi Kupiou eaxiv 


If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or is 

spiritual, let him recognize that . . . 

175. 1 Cor 14:38 ei 8e xic; dyvoei, dyvoeixai. III. 3 

If anyone does not acknowledge [this], he is not 

23 This is not strictly a first class condition; note the idiomatic £kt6q ei urj and the 
subjunctive verb. 

boyer: first class conditions 101 

176. 1 Cor 15:2 8i' ou Kai aaj£ea0e, xivi \6yco eur|yye>.iadur|v III.4 

upiv el Kaxexexe, 

Through which [gospel] you also are being saved 

... if you hold fast . . . 

177. 1 Cor 15:12 Ei 8e Xpioxd<; Kr|puaa£xai oxi ek veicpcov I. 

eyriyEpxai, n&q Xeyouaiv ev uuiv xive<; oxi 
dvdaxaaii; vEKpwv ouk Eaxiv; 
If Christ is preached that he has been raised 
from the dead, how do some among you say 
that . . .? 

178. 1 Cor 15:13 ei 5e dvdaxaau; vEKpwv ouk eaxiv, o08e II. 

Xpiaxog eyr|yepxar 

If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even 

Christ has been raised. 

179. 1 Cor 15:14 si 8e Xpiaxoq ouk feyrjyEpxai, kevov dpa Kai xo II. 

Krjpuyua f^ucov, kevt) Kai ri maxi? uucov, 
If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching 
[is] empty . . . 

180. 1 Cor 15:15 Sv ouk fjyEipev eircep dpa veKpoi ouk Eyeipovxai. II. 

Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead 
do not rise. 

181. 1 Cor 15:16 eI ydp VEKpoi ouk Eyeipovxai, ou8e Xpiaxdi; II. 


If the dead do not rise, not even Christ has been 


182. 1 Cor 15:17 ei 8e Xpiaxoq ouk eyr|yepxai, uaxaia f\ nicxic, II. 

uuffiv, 'ixi eoxe ev xai<; duapxiatc; uucov. 

If Christ has not been raised, your faith [is] 

worthless . . . 

183. 1 Cor 15:19 ei ev xrj £cofj xauxrj ev Xpiaxco ^XniKoxec, eouev II. 

u6vov, eXeeivoxepoi rcdvxtov dvGpamiov eauev. 
If in this life we have only hoped in Christ, we 
are most pitiable of all men. 

184. 1 Cor 15:29 ei<; veKpoi ouk eyeipovxai, xi Kai II. 

Parcxi^ovxai urcep auxcov; 

If the dead do not actually rise, why are they 

being baptized for them? 

185. 1 Cor 15:32 ei Kaxd dvGptonov eGripiopd^riaa ev'Ecpeatp, xi I. 

uoi xo 6q>e\oc,; 

If ... I fought with wild beasts in Ephesus, what 

[is] the benefit to me? 

186. 1 Cor 15:32 ei veKpoi ouk eyeipovxai, Odycouev Kai rcicouev, II. 

aupiov ydp dnoGvTJOKouev. 

If the dead do not rise, let us eat . . . drink . . . 


187. 1 Cor 15:44 ei eaxiv awpa h/u^ikov, eaxiv Kai nveupaxixov. I. 

If there is a physical body, there is also a 
spiritual one. 

188. 1 Cor 16:22 ei tic, oti (pi^Ei xov Kupiov, fjxco dvdOepa. III. 3 

If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be 

189. 2 Cor 1:6 e'ixe 5e 9?uP6pe6a, imep xfjg upwv napaKkr\OE<o<; III.2 24 

Kai a(J)Tr|pia(;• 

Whether [if] we are experiencing trouble, [it is] 

for your encouragement . . . 

190. 2 Cor 1:6 e'ixe jropaKaA-oupeOa, unep xfji; upcov III.2 24 

7rapaKX.r)aeco<; . . . 

Whether [if] we are being encouraged, [it is] for 

your encouragement . . . 

191. 2 Cor 2:2 ei yap eyw Xvn& upa<;, Kai xic, 6 eCxppaivcov pe III. 1 

ei pr) 6 Tiurcoupevog eH, epoO; 

If I grieve you, who then [is] the one who makes 

me glad . . .? 

192. 2 Cor 2:5 Ei 8e xi<; XeXimr|Kev, ouk epe XeXu7rr|Kev, I. 

If any has caused grief, he has not caused me 
grief . . . 

193. 2 Cor 2:10 Kai yap eyed 6 Kexdpiapai, ei xi Kexdpiapai, I. 

8v ' upaq ev rcpoaamcp XpiaxoO, 

If I have forgiven anything, [I have done it] for 

your sake . . . 

194. 2 Cor 3:7,8 Ei 8e r) 8iaKovia xoO Oavdxou ev ypdppaaiv I. 

evxexu7ia)pevT| XiOoiq eyevr|0r| ev 561; rj, . . . 7ico<; 
ouxi paXXov f^ SiaKovia xoC 7rveupaxo<; £axai 
ev 56^r); 

If the ministry of death . . . came about in glory 
. . . how much more shall the ministry of the 
Spirit be in glory? 

195. 2 Cor 3:9 ei ydp n, SiaKovia xfjc; KaxaKpiaeox; So^a, I. 

TtoXXai paAAov rcepiaaeuei r^ 8iaKovia xflg 
5tKaioauvr)<; 56£t). 

If the ministry of condemnation [was] glory, 
much more does the ministry of righteousness 
abound in glory. 

Cf. rest of verse; pair of alternative possibilities. 

boyer: first class conditions 103 

196. 2 Cor 3:11 ei yap to KaTapyoupevov 5id 86£r|c„ noXkqi I. 

paXXov to pevov ev 8o^rj. 
If that which is being put out of use [came] 
through glory, much more that which is abiding 
[shall be] in glory. 

197. 2 Cor 4:3 ei 5e mi goTiv KeicaXuuuevov to euayyeXiov I. 

f^pcov, ev toic, drcoXXupevoic, eaTiv 


If our gospel is hidden, it is hidden in those 
who are perishing. 

198. 2 Cor 4:16 ei Kai 6 e^co fjucov dvBpcoTroc, 8ia<p9eipeTai, aXX I. 

6 eoco f|nc&v dvaKaivoCTai r^pepa Kai I'ipepg. 
If our outer man is decaying, yet our inner 
[man] is being renewed . . . 

199. 2 Cor 5:2,3 Kai yap ev toutco aTevd^ouev . . . ercevSuaaaOai I. 

ercutoOouvTec,, ei ye Kai evSuaduevoi ou yupvoi 


In this we groan, longing to put on ... if indeed 

when we have put it on we shall not be found 


200. 2 Cor 5:16 ei Kai eyvcbKapev KaTd adpKa XpiaTOv, dXX.d I. 

vCv ooKeri ywwcncopev. 

Even if we have known Christ after the flesh, yet 

now no longer do we know him. 

201. 2 Cor 5:17 ei tic, ev XpiaTw, Kaivr} Kxiciq- III. 3 

If anyone [is] is Christ, [he is] a new creation. 

202. 2 Cor 7:8 ei Kai eXunriaa uuac, ev ttj erciaToXfj, ou I. 

ueTauekouav ei Kai peTepeX6pr|v . . . vuv 

Xaipw, . . . 

Even if I grieved you in the letter, I am not sorry. 

203. 2 Cor 7:8,9 ei Kai peTepeXopnv . . . vOv %aipo>, ... I. 

Even if I was sorry ... I now rejoice . . . 

204. 2 Cor 7:8 (P^ercco 6ti r^ knioToXi\ eKeivrj ei Kai Ttpdc, copav I. 

eXurcnaev upacj, 

(I see that that letter did grieve you, even if [it 

was] for an hour) 

205. 2 Cor 7:12 ei Kai gypa\j/a tipiv, oox eveKev . . . &XX' ... I. 

Even if I wrote to you, [it was] not for the 
sake of . . ., but. . . . 

206. 2 Cor 7:14 el ti auT<5 imep ouc&v KeKauxnpai oo I. 


If I have boasted any to him about you, I was 

not put to shame. 


207. 2 Cor 8:12 ei yap f) rcpoGuuia rcpoKeixai, Ka06 edv exT\ HI«3 

eunpoa8eKxo<;, ou Ka96 ouk e^ei. 

If the readiness is present, [one is] accepted 

according to . . . 

208. 2 Cor 10:7 ei xi<; nenoiQev eauxd) Xpiaxou elvai, xouto III. 3 

Xoyi^eaGw ndXiv ecp' eauxou oxi Ka0w<; auxdi; 
XptaxoO ouxax; Kai r}uei<;. 
If anyone is convinced that he himself belongs to 
Christ, let him reckon . . . that just as he [is] of 
Christ so also [are] we. 

209. 2 Cor 1 1:4 el uev ydp 6 epx6uevo<; fiXXov'Irjaouv Krjpuaaei III.2 

8v ouk eKT)pu£auev, fj 7rveuua Exepov XauPdvexe 
5 ouk eXdpexe, fj euayyeAaov exepov 8 ouk 
eSe^aaOe, KaX(5<; dve^eaGe. 
If the one who comes preaches another Jesus . . . 
or you receive another spirit ... or another 
gospel . . . you put up with it well. 

210. 2 Cor 11:6 ei 8e Kai i8icbxr|<; x(5 koyq), &XK ou xfj yvcoaei, III.4 

Even if [I am] a non-expert in speech, yet [I am] 
not [such] in knowledge. 

211. 2 Cor 11:15 ou ueya ouv ei Kai oi SidKovoi auxou I. 

pexaa/r|paxi^ovxai (be, SidKovoi 8iKaioauvr|<;, 
[It is] no great thing if his servants also trans- 
form themselves as servants of righteousness . . . 

212. 2 Cor 11:20 dvexeaOe yap ei xi<; uud<; KaxaSouXoi, ei tic, III. 2 

KaxeaOiei, ei xiq Xaupdvei, ei xi<; enaipexai, ei 
xi<; eic, 7ipoaamov uud<; 8epei. 
You put up with it if someone . . . devours you 
. . . takes advantage . . . lifts himself up . . . slaps 
you in the face. 

213. 2 Cor 11:30 Ei KauxdoGai Set, xd xfj<; daOeveiaq uou III. 2 


If it is necessary to boast I will boast of the things 

which pertain to my weakness. 

214. 2 Cor 12:11 ou8ev ydp uaxSpnaa xdiv urcepAiav dnoaxotaov, I. 

ei Kai ouSev eiur 

I have fallen short not at all of the super- 
apostles, although (even if) I am nothing. 

215. 2 Cor 12:15 ei rcepiaaoxepax; uud<; dyarcd), r^aaov dyarcaiuai; I. 

If I love you very much, am I loved the less? 

216. Gal 1:9 ei xu; uufi<; euayyeXi^exai Trap' 8 TtapeXdpexe, III. 2 

dvdOeua eaxco. 

If anyone preaches as gospel to you [something] 

beyond what you received, let him be anathema. 

boyer: first class conditions 105 

217. Gal 2:14 El est 'IooSaiog widpxcov eGvtK&i; Kai ou^i III.4 

'IouSa'i'Kw^ Cfic,, n&q xd e8vr| dvayKd^eic, 

' Iou8at£eiv; 

If you being a Jew live like gentiles and not like 

Jews, how do you compel the gentiles to live as 


218. Gal 2:17 ei 8e £r|xo0vxe<; 5ucaico9fjvai ev Xpiaxw III.4 

eupe8r|uev Kai autoi duapxtoXoi, dpa Xpiaxog 
duapxiat; SidKovoc;; urj yevoixo. 
If while we seek to be justified in Christ we 
ourselves were discovered [to be] sinners, [is] 
Christ a minister of sin? 

219. Gal 2:18 ei ydp fi Kax£Xuacc xaoxa rcdXiv oIkoSouw, III. 4 

7tapaPdxr|v euauxdv aovioxdvco. 

If I build again the things I had torn down, I 

constitute myself a transgressor. 

220. Gal 2:21 ei ydp 5id vduou 8ttcatoauvr|, dpa Xpiaxog II. 

8oopedv drceGavev. 

If righteousness [is] through law, then Christ 

died for nothing. 

221. Gal 3:4 xocroOxa ercdGexe etKfj; ei ye Kai eiKfj. III. 3 

Did you suffer so many things in vain? If indeed 
[it was] in vain. 

222. Gal 3:18 ei ydp £k vduou r^ KXripovouia, ouKexi e£ II. 

ercayyeXiac; - 

If the inheritance [is] from law, [it is] no 

longer from promise. 

223. Gal 3:29 ei 8e uueig XpioxoC, dpa xou 'Appadu anepua III.3 

eoxe, Kax' eTiayyeXiav KXrjpovouoi. 
If you [belong] to Christ, then you are 
Abraham's seed . . . 

224. Gal 4:7 ei 8e vide,, Kai KXr|pov6uo<; Sid 8eoC. I. 

If [you are] a son, [you are] also an heir 
through God. 

225. Gal 5:11 eyed 86, dSeXcpoi, ei Tiepixour^v £xi Kripuaaw, xi II. 

£xi SicoKouai; 

If I am still preaching circumcision, why am I 

still being persecuted? 

226. Gal 5:15 ei Se 6Xkf\kov<; SdKvexe Kai KaxeaGiexe, pXercexe III.4 

\ii\ urc' dXXr^Xwv dvaXcoGfjxe. 

If you bite and devour one another, watch out 

that you are not consumed by one another. 

227. Gal 5:18 ei 8e 7tve\3|iaxi dyeo6e, ouk eaxe find vduov. III. 3 

If you are being led by the Spirit, you are not 
under law. 


228. Gal 5:25 ei £a>|aev nveufaaxi, Ttvetifaaxi Kai axoixcouev. III.4 

If we are living by the Spirit, let us also walk 
by the Spirit. 

229. Gal 6:3 ei yap Sokei xi<; elvai xi unSev wv, cppevaTraxa III. 5 


If anyone thinks that he is something when he is 

nothing, he is deceiving himself. 

230. Eph 3:2 ei ye n,Kooaaxe xr^v oiicovouiav xfj<; /dpixoc, xoC I. 

8eo0 xfjq 8o9eiar|<; uoi ei<; i>ua<;, 

[I say this] if indeed you have heard of the 

administration . . . given to me . . . 

231. Eph 4:20- ouel<; 5e oux ouxcoc, eudOexe xov Xpiaxov, ei ye I. 

21 auxov r^Kouaaxe Kai ev aux<5 e5i8dx0r|te, 

You did not learn Christ in this manner, if 
indeed you have heard him and have been 
instructed in him. 

232. Eph 4:29 dXka ei xic, dya8d<; npoc, oucoSouiiv xfjc, xP e i a £> I- 

But if [there is] anything good for edifying . . . 
[let it be named . . .]. 

233. Phil 1:22 ei 5e xo £fjv ev aapKi, xoOxo uoi Kaprcoq epyoir III. 2 

If [it is] to live in the flesh, this [will mean] a 
fruit of labor for me. 

234. Phil 2:1,2 ET xi<; ouv napdKXr|oig ev Xpiaxqi, ei xt I. 

napauuOiov dya^r^, ei xic, Kowcovia 7tveuuaxo<;, 
et xic, OTtXdyxva Kai otKxipuoi, 7tXr|p(baaxe uou 
xr^v x a P av 

If [there is] any comfort ... if any consolation 
... if any sharing ... if any compassion . . . 
fulfill my joy . . . 

235. Phil 2:17 (xXKa ei Kai arcev8ouai erci xfj Guaia Kai III. 2 

^eixoupyia xfjc, niaxecoc, uudiv, x^P^ Ka ^ 
auy/aipco rcaaiv uuiv 
Even if I am being poured out as a drink 
offering on the sacrifice and service of your 
faith, I rejoice . . . 

236. Phil 3:4 e'i xic, Sokei dXXoc, nenoiOevai ev aapKi, eyed I. 


If anyone else thinks it well to have confidence 

in flesh, I (can do so) more. 

boyer: first class conditions 107 

237. Phil 3:8-11 dlXa pevouvye Kai rfyoupai rcdvxa £r)piav elvai III.3 25 

. . . ei nax; Kaxavxrjaco etc; xr)v e^avdaxaaw 


I consider all things to be loss ... if perhaps 
I may arrive unto the resurrection of the dead. 

238. Phil 3:15 Kai ei ti exepcoc, cppoveixe, Kai xouxo 6 Geoc, III. 4 

l)p.tV d7IOKaXu\|/8l - 

If you think something otherwise, God will 
reveal even this to you. 

239. Phil 4:8 et xic, dpexr) Kai ei xig ercaivoc;, xauxa ^.oyi^eaBe - I. 

If [there is] any virtue and if [there is] any 
praise, consider these things. 

240. Col 1:22-23 vuvi 5e drcoKaxr|>.Xdyr|xe . . . ei ye empevexe III. 3 

xrj 7tiaxsi xeOepeAacopevoi Kai e8paiot Kai pf| 
pexaKivoupevoi and xfjc; e^jiiSoc, xoC euayye?uou 
ou r^Kouaaxe, 

But now you have been reconciled ... if indeed 
you remain in the faith . . . 

241. Col 2:5 ei ydp Kai xfj aapKi dTteipi, aXka xcp nveupaxi I. 

auv upiv eipi, 

Even if I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with 

you in spirit. 

242. Col 2:20 Ei drceOdvexe auv Xpiaxaj drco xcov axoixeicov III. 3 

xou Koopou, xi (be, ^covxeg ev Koapcp 
8oypaxi£ea9e, . . . 

If you died with Christ . . . why, as though living 
... do you submit to regulations . . .? 

243. Col 3:1 Ei ouv ouvrjyepOrixe x<3 Xpiaxcp, xd dvco ^lyteixe, III. 3 

If you were raised together with Christ, seek the 
things above. 

244. I Thess 4:14 ei ydp niaxeuopev oxv 'Inaouc; dn:69avev Kai I. 

dveoxri, ouxcoc, Kai 6 Qeoc, xouc; Kotpr|8evxac, 8id 
xou 'Ir|oou d^ei auv aux<5. 
If we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also 
God will bring with him those . . . 

Not strictly a conditional sentence (the apodosis does not depend on the 
protasis). Actually it seems to be an elliptical way of expressing an uncertain purpose: 
"I count . . . loss, in order that, if possible, I may attain. . . ." 



245. 2Thess 1:5,7 

246. 2 Thess 3:10 

247. 2 Thess 3:14 

248. 1 Tim 1:10 

249. 1 Tim 3:1 

250. 1 Tim 3:5 

251. 1 Tim 5:4 

252. 1 Tim 5:8 

253. 1 Tim 5:9,10 

254. 1 Tim 5:16 

eiq to Kaxa^icoOfivai uua<; xfj<; Paai^Eiac, xou 1. 
Geou, . . . EiTiep 8iKaiov rcapd Geoj dvxarcoSouvai 
xoiq GXipouaiv uuac, GXnjnv Kai xoiq 
GXipousvoic, dveaiv pe8' fjucov 
That you be considered worthy ... if indeed [it 
is] a righteous thing with God to repay . . . 

ei xi<; ou QeXei epyd^eaGai ur|o£ eoGiexg). III. 4 

If anyone does not want to work, let him not eat. 

ei 86 xiq oux uitaKouei xw Xoycp f^ucov 8id xfjq III. 4 
eniaxoXfjg, xoOxov aripeioOaGe, 
If anyone does not hearken to our word through 
the letter, mark such . . . 

Kai ei xi sxepov xfj uyiaivouat] SiSaoKaXia III. 4 


And if there is anything else contrary to sound 

teaching [the law is for it] (Cf. v. 9) 

si xic, ETuo-Korcfji; 6p6y£xai, KaXou Epyou 6tu6uueT I II. 4 
If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he 
desires a good work. 

ei 86 xic, xoO i8iou oikou rcpooxfjvai ouk o\8ev, III. 5 
k&c; £KKXr|aia(; 0eo0 £7uu£>.r|a£xai; 
If anyone does not know how to preside over his 
own house, how shall he take care of the church 
of God? 

si 86 xic, xAP a tekvci fj EKyova e%ei, 
pavSavExtoaav npcoxov xov iSiov oikov euoePeiv 
If any widow has children or grand-children, let 
them learn first to practice piety at home . . . 

ei 86 xic, xdiv ISiov Kai udXioxa oikeicov ou 

rcpovoEixai, xr\v niaxiv fjpvr|xai kui eoxiv 

dniaxou x e tptov. 

If anyone does not provide for his own ... he 

has denied the faith and is worse than an 


Xr^pa KaxaXfiyEoOa) . . . ei 6x£Kvoxp6(pr|o-£v, ei III.4 
E^£vo56xT|a£v, ei dyicov noSac, evivj/ev, ei 
G?uPou6voic, £7it|pKEaEv, ei roxvxi £py(p dyaGw 


Let a widow be enrolled ... if she has reared 
children, . . . shown hospitality . . . washed . . . 
assisted . . . followed . . . 

ei xic, rciaxr) i>x £l xAP a c» feftapKEixw auxatc,, III. 2 
If any [woman] believer has widows, let her 
assist them. 



boyer: first class conditions 


255. 1 Tim 6:3,4 

256. 2 Tim 2:11 

257. 2 Tim 2:12 

258. 2 Tim 2:12 

259. 2 Tim 2:13 

260. Titus 1:5-6 

261. Phlm 17 

262. Phlm 18 

263. Heb 2:2,3 

264. Heb 3:11 

265. Heb 4:3 

266. Heb 4:5 

el xic, ET8po8i5aaKaXei icai \if\ Kpoaepxexai III. 4 
uyiaivooaiv Xoyoic,, . . . XEXoqxoxai, . . . 

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree 
with sound words ... he is puffed up . . . 

si ydp auvansGdvouEV, icai au^rjaouEV I II. 3 

If we have died with [him], we shall also live 
with [him]. 

eI uttouevouev, icai auuPaai?i£uaou£v III. 3 

If we endure, we shall reign with [him]. 

ei dpvr)cr6u£0a, k&keivoi; dpvrjaExai rjuac/ III. 4 

If we deny [him], he also will deny us. 

ei dniatouuEV, ekeivoc, maxoq uevei, III. 4 

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful. 

iva . . . KaxaarriaTiCj Kcrrd noXiv III.4 

npeaPmtpouc,, ... ei xic, feaxiv 

dv£yK>.r|xo(;, . . . 

In order that . . . you may establish elders 

... if any is above reproach . . . 

Ei ouv ue £%£i<; koivcovov jrpoa^.a(3ou auxov I. 
(5c, EUE. 

If you hold me as a partner, receive him as [you 
would] me. 

eI 8e xi r}5iKr|a£v cte r\ o^eikei, xoOxo Euoi I. 


If he has wronged you or owes you anything, 

charge this to me. 

Ei ydp 6 5i' dyyfiXwv XaXr]Qeic, Xoyoq EySvExo I. 
PsPaiocj, . . . n&q i'Iueic, £K<pEu£6u£8a 
xr)XiKauxrig du£?ir]aavxEC, acaxripiac,; 
If the word spoken through angels was sure . . . 
how shall we escape . . .? 

Ei EiaEXfiuaovxai eic, xr|v Kaxdrcauaiv uou. II. 26 

[May something terrible happen to me] if they 
shall enter my rest. 

Ei EiasXEuaovxat sic, xtiv Kaxdrcauaiv uou. II. 

Same as preceding (Heb 3:11; cf. Mk. 8:12). 
Ei EiasXEuaovxai eic, xf|V Kaxdrcauaiv uou. II. 

Same as preceding (Heb 3:11; cf. Mark 8:12). 

An elliptical Semitic idiom expressing an oath. Cf. Mark 8:12. 


267. Heb 6:9 FleTreiaueGa 5e rcepi tiuwv, dyaTrnjoi, xd I. 

Kpeiaaova Kai e^dueva acoxrjpiaf;, ei Kai ouxax; 


We are persuaded of better things concerning 

you . . . even if we speak thus. 

268. Heb 7:15 Kai 7tepiaadxepov exi Kaxd8r)A,dv eaxiv, ei Kaxd I. 

xf|v 6uoioxr|xa Me\x io " EOEK dviaxaxai iepeix; 


This is still more abundantly clear, if another 

priest arises after the likeness of Melchizedek. 

269. Heb 9:13-14 ei yap xd crtua xpdycov Kai xaupcov . . . dyid^ei I. 

. . . 7roacp uaA.A.ov xd atua xou XpiaxoO, . . . 
KaGapist xr)v auveiSrjaiv r^uwv . . . 
If the blood of bulls and goats . . . sanc- 
tified . . . much more shall the blood of 
Christ . . . cleanse your conscience . . . 

270. Heb 12:8 ei Se x w P^ eo "C£ rcaiSeiag fjq pexo^oi yeydvaaiv III. 3 

navxeq, dpa voGoi Kai otix uioi eaxe. 

If you are without chastening . . . then you are 

illegitimate and not sons. 

271. Heb 12:25 ei ydp eKelvoi ouk e^e(puyov erci yf\c, I. 

7rapaixr|0"duevoi xov xP y ][ l0iX ^ ovxa ^ no\v 

paXXov ripelq oi xdv arc' oupavwv 


If they did escape who . . . much more we [shall 

not escape] who . . . 

272. Jas 1:5 Ei oe tic, upwv A.ei7texai aocpiaq, aixeixco rcapd III. 3 

xou SiSdvxoq 0eou naoiv anX&q Kai pn, 

dveiSi^ovxoi;, Kai SoGrjaexai auxw. 

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask . . . 

273. Jas 1:23 ei xi<; dKpoaxii<; taryou eaxiv Kai ou 7roir|xrj<;, III. 3 

omoc, eoiKev dvSpi KaxavooOvxi xd 7ipdaamov 
xr\q yeveaeax; auxoO fev eadrcxpcp" 
If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, 
he is like . . . 

274. Jas 1:26 E'i xic, SoKet 9pr|aKdc; eivai, pn, xaX.ivaycoywv III. 3 

yktoaaav auxoO akXa drcaxGiv Kap5iav auxoO, 

xouxou pdxaiog r\ 9pr|aKeia. 

If anyone thinks that he is religious while not 

bridling his tongue . . . this man's religion [is] 


boyer: first class conditions 111 

275. Jas 2:8 ei uevxoi vopov xeXeixe PaatXiKov Kaxd xnv III.4 27 

ypa(pr|v, 'Aya7ir|aei<; xov rcXriaiov aou (6c, 
aeauxov, koX&c, rcoieixe- 
If you are accomplishing the royal law . . ., you 
do well. 

276. Jas 2:9 ei 8e 7ipoaG>7ioA.rm7txeixe, dpapxiav epyd^eaGe, III.4 27 

But if you show partiality you are working sin. 

277. Jas 2:11 ei 8e oti poi/eueic,, cpoveuetc, Se, yeyovac, HI.4 

7tapa|3dxr|<; vopou. 

If you do not commit adultery but you commit 

murder, you have become a law-breaker. 

278. Jas 3:2 ei xic, ev Xoycp ou rcxaiei, oOxoc, xeXeioc, dvr]p, III.4 

If anyone does not stumble in word, this [is] a 
mature man. 

279. Jas 3:3 ei 8e xcov iTntcov xouc, xa^vouc, eic, xd axouaxa I. 

PaXXopev eic, xo neiGeaBai amove, n.piv, Kai 
6Xov xo afipa auxcov pexdyopev. 
If we put bits into the mouths of horses . . ., we 
control their whole body. 

280. Jas 3:14 ei 8e £fjA.ov nuepdv e^exe Kai epiGeiav ev xfj III.4 

KapSia upcov, \ir] KaxaKaoxdaGe Kai \yeu8ea0e 
Kaxd xfjc, d>.r|8eiac,. 

If you have bitter jealousy and strife in your 
heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. 

281. Jas 4:11 ei 8e vopov Kpiveic,, ouk el TtoinxTic, vopou III.4 

aXka Kpixtjc,. 

If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the 

law, but a judge. 

282. 1 Pet 1:6 6X.iyov dpxt ei 8eov [eoxiv] ?omr|0evxec, III.2 28 

Being grieved now for a little while, if it is 

283. 1 Pet 1:17 Kai ei rcaxepa ETriKaXEioBE xov III. 3 

dTtpoacorcoXTiuTtxcoc, Kpivovxa Kaxd xo EKdaxou 

gpyov, ev (pofkp xov xf\q TtapotKiac, upwv xpovov 


If you call upon the father . . . live out the time 

of your sojourn in fear. 

27 Cf. w 8, 9; pair of alternative possibilities. 

28 Not a complete sentence; the protasis is an idiomatic parenthetic explanation. 
Cf. el 8uvaxov. 


284. 1 Pet 2:2-3 d8oXov yaka e7uno9rjoaxe, . . . ei £yeuaaa0e I II. 3 

Desire the milk ... if you have tasted that the 
Lord is good. 

285. 1 Pet 2:19 xoOxo yap x a P l £ E * 8id auvei8r)aiv 0eoO III.4 2 

urco(pepei xi<; \vnac, rrdaxcov dSucox;. 

This [is] grace, if someone for the sake of 

conscience toward God bears sorrow, suffering 


286. 1 Pet 2:20 rcoiov ydp \ckioq ei duapxdvovxeg Kai III.4 2 

KoXot(pi£6uevoi imouevetxe; 

What credit [is there], if you endure when you sin 

and are punished? 

287. 1 Pet 2:20 aXk' ei dya0o7toio0vxe<; Kai rcdaxovxei; III.4 2 

imouevetxe, xouxo x a P l( 5 napd 8e<5. 

But if you endure when you are doing good and 

suffer, this [is] grace in God's eyes. 

288. 1 Pet 3:1 'iva Kai et xiveq dneiOoOaiv x<5 Xdycp Sid xfj<; xcov III. 3 

yuvaiKcov dvaaxpocpfji; dveu Xoyou 


In order that, even if some [husbands] disbelieve 

the word, they may be won without the word . . . 

289. 1 Pet 4:11 ei xi<; X.aXei, (be, Xoyia Geotr III.4 

If anyone speaks [let him speak] as the oracle 
of God. 

290. 1 Pet 4:1 1 ei xiq SiaKovel, c5<; e£ ia/uoq f^g xoPHY 8 * ° feoc,' III.4 

If anyone serves [let him do it] as from the 
strength which God supplies. 

291. 1 Pet 4:14 ei 6vei8i£ea0e ev ovouaxi XpiaxoO, III. 2 


If you are reproached in the name of Christ, 

[you are] blessed. 

292. 1 Pet 4:16 ei 8e (be, Xpiaxiavdg, ur} aiaxoveaOco, III. 2 

If [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not be 

293. 1 Pet 4:17 ei 8e rcpcoxov d<p' f^udiv, xi xo xiXoq x&v I. 

d7tei0ouvx(ov xro xou Oeou euayyeX. iq>; 

If [judgment begins] first from us, what [shall 

be] the end of those . . .? 

294. 1 Pet 4:18 ei 6 SiKaioq u6A.i<; aco^exai, 6 daepr^ Kai I. 

duapxtoXdi; rcoO cpavetxai; 

If the righteous man is saved with difficulty, 

where shall the ungodly and sinner appear? 

29 Cf. w 19, 20; set of three alternative possibilities. 

boyer: first class conditions 113 

295. 2 Pet 2:4-9 Ei yap 6 0ed<; dyyeXcov dpapxricdvxcov ouk I. 

E<p£iaaxo, . . . Kai dpxaiou Koapou ouk 
fecpeiaaxo, . . . Kai noXeiq Eo86p(ov Kai ropoppa*; 
xscppwaat; KaxEKpivEV, . . . o\8ev Kupiog evaefieic, 
ek 7i£ipaa|aoC (tvecQai, . . . 
If God did not spare angels . . . did not spare the 
old world . . . condemned cities of Sodom . . . 
delivered Lot ... the Lord knows how to deliver 
the godly . . . 

296. 2 Pet 2:20 ei yap drcocpuyovxEi; xd pidapaxa xoC Koapou ev III.4 

ErtiyvtoaEi toO Kupiou [f|p(5v] Kaiacoxfjpoq'IriaoO 
XpioTou toutok; 8e nakiv EprcXaKEvxEi; fixx&vxai, 
yEyovfiv auxoig td saxaxa xeipova xcov Ttpcoxoov. 
If, having escaped the defilement of the 
world . . . and again having become entangled, 
they are overcome, the last state [is] worse than 
the first. 

297. 1 John 3:13 [ir\ Oaupd^Exs, a5ek(poi, ei piaEi upac; I. 

6 Koapo<;. 

Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world 

hates you. 

298. 1 John 4:11 'Aya7rxr|xoi, ei ouxax; 6 Qeoc, r^ydnriaEv ripag, I. 

Kai r^pEic; 6(p£i\op£v aXXr\Xovc, dyaitav. 
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to 
love one another. 

299. 1 John 5:9 ei xrjv papxupiav xtov dvOpamcov XapPdvopEV, I. 

f^ papxupta xou 8eo0 psi^cov eoxiv, 

If we receive the testimony of men, the 

testimony of God is greater. 

300. 2 John 10 ei xi<; Ep/sxat rcpdc; upaq Kai xauxr|v xr^v III. 2 

Sioaxiiv ou (pEpEi, pf| Xap|3dv£X£ auxov ei<; 
oudav Kai x a ip £lv ctuxw \ir\ Xeyexe- 
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this 
teaching, do not receive him into your house . . . 

301. Rev 11:5 Kai ei xt<; auxoui; Qekei d8ucfjaai, TtCp III.4 

EKTiopEUExai ek xou axopaxoq auxcov Kai 
KaxsaOiEt xou<; t%Qpovc, auxcov 
If anyone wants to harm them, fire goes forth 
. . . and devours . . . 

302. Rev 11:5 ei xig OeXtioei auxoui; dSiKfjaai, ouxax; 5ei III. 4 

auxov dnoKxavOfjvai. 

If anyone will want to harm them, he must be 

killed thus. 

303. Rev 13:9 Ei xig M/ei ou<; dKouodxco. III. 3 

If anyone has an ear let him hear. 


304. Rev 13:10 ei xic, eic, aixuaXcoaiav, ei<; aixuaXcoaiav imdyer III. 2 

If anyone [is] for captivity, into captivity he goes. 

305. Rev 13:10 ei tic, ev uaxaipr) dTtoKxavOfjvai, auxov ev III. 2 

uaxaipn, djroKxavOfjvai. 

If anyone [is] to be killed with a sword, [it is 

necessary] that he be killed with a sword. 

306. Rev 14:9 Ei xiq rcpooKuvei xo Orjpiov Kai xr)v eiKova I II. 4 

auxou, Kai XauPdvei xdpayua . . . Kai amoq 
rciexai sk xou o'ivou . . . Kai PaaaviaOrjaexat . . . 
If anyone worships the beast ... he also shall 
drink of the wine of God's wrath . . . and shall be 
tormented . . . 

307. Rev 14:11 Kai e'i tic, Xaupdvei xo /dpayua xou 6vouaxo<; III.4 


And if anyone receives the mark . . . [he too has 

no rest]. 

308. Rev 20:15 Kai ei tic, ov% eupeOn, ev xfj pipXco xfjg £cofj<; III. 3 

yeypauuevoi; ePA.r]8r| eic, xr)v Aiuvnv xou nvpoc,. 
If anyone was not found written in the book of 
life he was cast into the lake of fire. 



ROMANS 9:25-26 

John A. Battle, Jr. 

A number of premillennial writers are now agreeing with amillen- 
nialists that a literal interpretation of OT prophecies concerning Israel 
is not justified. They claim that the NT interprets these prophecies in a 
"spiritualized" sense, applying them to the present church, and con- 
clude that the OT provides no proof of a future national conversion 
of Israel or of a future millennial kingdom. The quotations of Hosea 
in Rom 9:25-26 are cited as a primary example. Most who hold to the 
literal interpretation of prophecy assume that Paul quotes Hosea by 
way of analogy only, without denying a future fulfilment for Israel; 
others believe that Paul quotes Hosea literally and has specifically in 
mind Israel's present unbelief and future conversion. The author 
prefers the second alternative and sees evidence for this interpretation 
not only in the context of Hosea, but also in the context of Romans 
9. The background and contexts of the other OT passages cited in 
Romans 9 confirm the suggested interpretation. It is concluded that 
the literal interpretation of OT prophecy not only agrees with Paul's 
normal hermeneutics but helps greatly in the exegesis of this particu- 
lar passage. 

Today it is recognized more than ever that one's theology as a 
whole is closely related to one's hermeneutics. This fact espe- 
cially comes to the fore in the study of eschatology. For decades the 
dictum has held true that amillennialism requires an allegorical or 
"spiritual" interpretation of biblical prophecy (especially in the OT), 
while premillennialism springs from a more literal interpretation of 
those prophecies. 

Therefore, it comes as a surprise that a premillennial writer 
would favor a spiritualized interpretation of OT prophecy. Yet, 
several premillennialists have done this, the most prominent being 
George Eldon Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary. In an interesting 


book on the millennium, in which four theologians debate each 
other, 1 Ladd declares himself to be a premillennialist, but on the basis 
of only two NT passages, Rev 20:1-6, and to a lesser extent, 1 Cor 
15:23-26. 2 Similarly, his belief in the future national conversion of 
Israel is founded on a single NT passage, Rom 11:26. 3 To support his 
eschatology Ladd refuses to use the scores of OT passages dealing 
with the messianic kingdom and its blessings. He believes that a 
literal interpretation of many of these passages may be possible, but 
that it is not required; he claims that in several cases the NT itself 
interprets OT prophecies in a nonliteral or "spiritualizing" sense. 
Ladd concludes that the OT cannot be used confidently to describe 
the future millennial kingdom, or even to prove its existence: 4 

The fact is that the New Testament frequently interprets Old Testament 
prophecies in a way not suggested by the Old Testament context. 

This clearly establishes the principle that the "literal hermeneutic" does 
not work. 

The Old Testament did not clearly foresee how its own prophecies were 
to be fulfilled. They were fulfilled in ways quite unforeseen by the Old 
Testament itself and unexpected by the Jews. With regard to the first 
coming of Christ, the Old Testament is interpreted by the New 
Testament. ... A nondispensational eschatology forms its theology 
from the explicit teaching of the New Testament. It confesses that it 
cannot be sure how the Old Testament prophecies of the end are to be 
fulfilled. 5 


To demonstrate that the NT handles the OT in a nonliteral 
fashion, Ladd cites four primary examples: Hos 11:1 in Matt 2:15; Isa 
53:4, 7-8 in Matt 8:17 and Acts 8:32-33; Hos 2:23 and 1:10 in Rom 
9:25-26; and Jer 31:31-34 in Heb 8:8-12. 6 Of these four, Ladd singles 

1 The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views (ed. Robert G. Clouse; Downers 
Grove: InterVarsity, 1977); the four scholars are G. E. Ladd (historic premillennialism), 
H. A. Hoyt (dispensational premillennialism), L. Boettner (postmillennialism), and 
A. A. Hoekema (amillennialism). 

2 Ibid., 32-39. 

3 Ibid., 27-29. 

4 Ibid., 20-27. 

5 Ibid., 20, 23, 27; italics his. It should be noted that many nondispensational 
writers disagree with Ladd's position and seek to follow a grammatical-historical 
approach to both the OT and the NT. 

6 Ibid., 20-27. Ladd could have cited also Amos 9:11-12, quoted in Acts 15:16- 
17, a key passage for those arguing for "spiritualized" exegesis; elsewhere he does apply 
it to the present age, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1974) 355. For a more thorough discussion of this passage from the amillennial 

battle: paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 117 

out Rom 9:25-26 as "a most vivid illustration of this principle." 7 In this 
passage Paul quotes the OT: "Even as it says in Hosea, 'I will call 
them my people who were not my people, and her beloved who was 
not beloved; and it will be in the place where it was said to them, 
"You are not my people," there they will be called sons of the living 

The OT verses quoted by Paul, Hos 2:23 and 1:10, predict the 
future restoration of Israel to God's favor and blessing after a period 
of estrangement and judgment caused by Israel's unbelief. Nearly all 
commentators recognize that Hosea has literal, national Israel in 
view — particularly, the ten northern tribes. Furthermore, the pre- 
dicted blessings seem to fit perfectly with the future millennium. 
Hosea emphasizes Israel's future repentance and reinstatement as 
God's people, the objects of his mercy. 

But in Rom 9:25-26 Paul quotes these verses in a surprising 
manner. V 24 speaks of "us whom he has called, not from the Jews 
only but also from the Gentiles," indicating Christians of his day. 
Paul then continues, "as also it says in Hosea," and quotes these 
verses. Many believe that here he equates the Christian church with 
the promised restoration of Israel, employing a "spiritualizing" inter- 
pretation of Hosea 's prophecy. Such is Ladd's conclusion: 

Paul deliberately takes these two prophecies about the future of Israel 
and applies them to the church. The church, consisting of Jews and 
Gentiles, has become the people of God. The prophecies of Hosea are 
fulfilled in the Christian church. If this is a "spiritualizing hermeneutic" 
so be it. . . . It is clearly what the New Testament does to the Old 
Testament prophecies. 

Obviously, if Ladd's exegesis is correct, those who hold to a 
consistent grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture must 
modify their position. On the other hand, the exegesis of the Romans 
passage itself must stand careful scrutiny, especially since issues of 
hermeneutics and theology are involved. This writer believes that a 
careful examination of both passages in their related contexts will 
reveal a basic underlying unity and that a consistent literal interpreta- 
tion of Hosea 's prophecy is the key to understanding Paul's meaning 
in Romans 9. 

viewpoint, see O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and 
Reformed, 1955) 145-50, and more recently, A. A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 209-10. For an excellent treatment favoring literal 
exegesis, see A. A. MacRae, "The Scientific Approach to the OT," BSac 110 (1953) 

7 This passage is discussed by Ladd, Meaning of the Millennium, 23-24. 



Commentators and theologians who seriously discuss this pas- 
sage tend to hold one of three opinions: (1) Paul actually changes 
Hosea's meaning in its OT context to make the prophecy refer 
directly and exclusively to his own times, (2) Paul only uses Hosea's 
prophecy as an example or analogy, applying its principle to his own 
times, or (3) Paul employs Hosea's prophecy literally, with the same 
meaning as that evident in the OT context. Within each approach 
there are several variations. Each of these approaches will be summa- 
rized below. 

Changing Hosea's meaning 

Many look at the seeming discrepancy between Hosea and Paul, 
"take the bull by the horns," and declare that Paul simply changed or 
"transformed" Hosea's prophecy. On the critical side, commentators 
often accuse Paul of misusing the OT for his own ends. For example, 
C. H. Dodd has written: 

The verses which follow are extremely difficult in the Greek. . . . When 
Paul, normally a clear thinker, becomes obscure, it usually means that 
he is embarrassed by the position he has taken up. It is surely so here. 
... It is rather strange that Paul has not observed that this prophecy 
referred to Israel, rejected for its sins, but destined to be restored: 
strange because it would have fitted so admirably the doctrine of the 
restoration of Israel which he is to expound in chap. xi. But, if the 
particular prophecy is ill-chosen, it is certainly true that the prophets 
did declare the calling of the Gentiles. 8 

Likewise Ernst Kasemann sees Paul disregarding the original sense of 

As is his custom Paul understands the sayings as eschatologically 
oriented oracles without considering their original sense. . . . With 
great audacity he takes the promises to Israel and relates them to the 
Gentile-Christians. 9 

Opposed to this cavalier treatment of Pauline exegesis, many 
conservative writers still feel that Paul basically transforms or 
"deepens" Hosea's meaning to refer to the church of his day. 
Although, as mentioned above, G. E. Ladd takes this approach, it is 

8 C. H. Dodd, The Epistle to the Romans (MNTC; New York: Harper and 
Brothers, 1932) 159-60. 

9 E. Kasemann, Commentary on Romans, trans, and ed. from 4th Ger. ed. 
Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) 274. 

battle: Paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 119 

found most frequently among postmillennialists or amillennialists, 
who naturally favor a more "spiritualizing" hermeneutic. H. N. 
Ridderbos, for example, calls this passage "a transition in inter- 
pretation." 10 

A number of exegetical points in Romans 9-11 lend support to 
this approach; the following seem to be the most important: 

1) The Gentiles are mentioned immediately before and after 
Paul's quotations (w 24, 30). 

2) The 5e at the beginning of v 27 could well contrast the status 
of Jews in v 27 with that of Gentiles in w 25-26. 

3) Peter paraphrases Hos 2:23, referring it to his Christian 
readers (1 Pet 2:10). n 

4) The "vessels of wrath" of v 22 seem to be unbelieving Jews, 
while the "vessels of mercy" of v 23 are identified as believing Jews 
and Gentiles. Such a contrast is carried out in Rom 9:30-10:4. 

5) The structure citing blessings on the "non-people" in w 25-26, 
followed by judgment against Israel in vv 27-29, is parallel to the 
preference for the "non-nation" in 10:19-20, followed by the judgment 
against Israel in 10:21. The "non-nation" in 10:19 refers to Gentiles. 

6) Paul, by the term "jealousy" in 10:19 and 11:11, 14, links his 
own ministry in the church to the eschatological promises made to 
Israel. In fact, Paul's whole line of argument from the OT in Romans 
9-11 seems to presuppose its relevance for his own day. 

Taken together, these arguments give a powerful impetus to 
many theologians, who conclude that Paul in some way changes the 
meaning of Hosea's prophecy from that which is apparent in its 
original context. Of course, the major drawback of this viewpoint is 
its conclusion regarding hermeneutics: while the NT is to be inter- 
preted (more or less) literally, the OT is not. Many amillennialists 
expand this principle to all OT prophecy and thereby deny any future 
fulfilment of these prophecies for the nation of Israel. 

An argument from analogy 

Many commentators, desiring to maintain the integrity of Hosea's 
meaning, and yet convinced that Paul is speaking of Gentiles, see in 
this passage an application of Hosea's prophecy, but not its total 
fulfilment. Charles Hodge expresses this view well: 

10 H. Ridderbos, Paul, An Outline of His Theology, trans. J. R. de Witt (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 340. 

u On the other hand, Kasemann, Commentary on Romans, 21 A, contrasts Rom 
9:25 with Jub 2:19, "Behold, I will separate unto Myself a people from among all the 
peoples, . . . and I will sanctify them unto Myself as My people, and will bless 


The difficulty with regard to this passage is, that in Hosea it evidently 
has reference not to the heathen, but to the ten tribes. Whereas, Paul 
refers it to the Gentiles. . . . This difficulty is sometimes gotten over by 
giving a different view of the apostle's object in the citation, and 
making it refer to the restoration of the Jews. But this interpretation is 
obviously at variance with the context. It is more satisfactory to say, 
that the ten tribes were in a heathenish state, relapsed into idolatry, 
and, therefore, what was said of them, is of course applicable to others 
in like circumstances, or of like character. . . . This method of 
interpreting and applying Scripture is both common and correct. A 
general truth, stated in reference to a particular class of persons, is to 
be considered as intended to apply to all those whose character and 
circumstances are the same, though the form or words of the original 
enunciation may not be applicable to all embraced within the scope of 
the general sentiment. 12 

Likewise, Sanday and Headlam say that "St. Paul applies the principle 
which underlies these words, that God can take into His covenant 
those who were previously cut off from it, to the calling of the 
Gentiles." 13 This approach is followed by Herman A. Hoyt in his 
reply to Ladd's argument: 

In passage after passage Ladd insists that the New Testament is 
interpreting the Old when the New Testament is simply applying a 
principle found in the Old Testament (Hos. 11:1 with Mt. 2:15; Hos. 
1:10; 2:23 with Rom. 9:24-26). Rushing to the conclusion that these 
references identify the church and Israel as the same body of the saved 
is wholly gratuitous. ... It makes such application merely for the 
purpose of explaining something that is true of both. 14 

This approach to Rom 9:25-26 certainly has its advantages. It 
strives to do justice to Hosea 's prophecy in its context, and it also 
recognizes the apparent force of the context in Romans concerning 
the conversion of Gentiles. In addition, the introductory formula, 
"even as ((&<;) it says in Hosea," fits well with an illustration or 
analogy and does not demand that it be the strict fulfilment of 
the prophecy. 

them; . . . and they shall be My people and I will be their God." The Jubilees passage 
refers exclusively to national Israel (cf. v 31). R. H. Charles dates this work between 
109 and 105 B.C., APOT (1913) 2, 6. 

12 C. Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (rev. ed., 1886; reprinted; 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) 326-27. 

13 W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on 
the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 264; similarly, 
J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965) 38. 

14 Meaning of the Millennium, 42-43. 

battle: paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 121 

In spite of its attraction, however, the argument for analogy has 
some drawbacks. For one thing, Paul normally interprets OT proph- 
ecies literally, as will be discussed later in this article. The few 
examples of his analogical use of scripture normally come from 
non-predictive portions (as Ps 19:4 in Rom 10:18, or Deut 25:4 
in 1 Tim 5:18). 

There remains a greater difficulty with this interpretation. The 
analogy between the ten tribes and the Gentiles breaks down at a 
critical point. Hodge mentioned that an analogy is appropriate for 
"all those whose character and circumstances are the same." Certainly 
one could identify the "character" of the idolatrous ten tribes with 
that of the Gentiles. Paul no doubt was amazed by God's mercy 
revealed both in God's promises for adulterous Israel and in his 
saving the heathen. But the "circumstances" of the two groups are 
quite different. Romans 1-2 describes the Gentiles' relation to God as 
founded upon creation and conscience, whereas Romans 2-3 describes 
the Jews' relation to God as also one of promise and covenant. The 
covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have placed even the 
unbelieving Jews in a unique position in the world (cf. Rom 11:24). It 
is because of these covenants that the OT predicts Israel's restoration 
(e.g., Lev 26:40-45; Deut 4:29-31). And Paul himself in Romans 9-11 
stresses that this restoration stems from God's special mercy and 
covenant-faithfulness to Israel (Rom 9:4-6; 11:1-2, 11, 24, 28-29). In 
this major respect Paul does not view the present salvation of 
Gentiles as analogous to the promised future salvation of na- 
tional Israel. 

Identity of meaning 

As quoted above, Charles Hodge has said, "This difficulty is 
sometimes gotten over by giving a different view of the apostle's 
object in the citation, and making it refer to the restoration of the 
Jews." Actually, very few commentators have proposed this solution; 
as Hodge went on to say, "This interpretation is obviously at variance 
with the context." Nevertheless, one who has ventured this approach 
is Alva J. McClain, who says in his popular commentary: 

A lot of folks think that this passage refers to the Gentiles. It does 
not. They think Paul made a mistake and quoted from the Old 
Testament something that belonged to Jews and applied it to the 
Gentiles. He is talking about Israel. "I will call her my people which 
was not my people." God cast Israel off and then picked her up in 
mercy. 15 

15 A. J. McClain, Romans: The Gospel of God's Grace (ed. H. A. Hoyt; Chicago: 
Moody, 1973) 183. 


Unfortunately, the brief and popular style of McClain's book prevents 
a clarification and defense of this statement. Its major difficulty, as 
Hodge has noted, is the context in Romans 9, which seems to be 
speaking about the present, largely Gentile church. Yet this approach 
has the distinct asset of taking Hosea's prophecy at face value and 
maintaining complete harmony between Hosea and Paul. This writer 
believes that the context in Romans 9 can, and indeed does, fit 
together best with this interpretation. 

Before proceeding to defend this approach, it would be good to 
note another variation of it. Some commentators believe that Paul 
used Hosea in the original sense, but that the original sense of Hosea 
included the salvation of Gentiles. George N. H. Peters, on one hand, 
sees believing Gentiles as incorporated into the Israel of prophecy. 16 
While Romans 1 1 certainly supports this approach, it seems that the 
contexts of Romans 9 and of Hosea 1-2 refer more directly to 
national Israel — largely unbelieving. On the other hand, several writers 
have seen the Gentile conversion already foretold in Hosea itself, 
from the standpoint of OT exegesis. William Kelly sees Gentile 
salvation in Hos 1:10, on the analogy of Isa 65:l-2. 17 J. Barton Payne 
notes that, in the OT, "believing Gentiles may be identified simply as 
Israelites, inseparable from God's people," citing Isa 44:5; 56:3, along 
with Hos 1:10; 2:23. 18 The view of Kelly and Payne agrees with OT 
exegesis and theology, but seems out of harmony with the context of 
Hosea, where the woman who was restored is the same woman who 
was married and who went astray — i.e., national Israel. Also, as will 
be seen, Paul's quotations need not be construed as referring to 
Gentile conversions in Paul's day. 


This writer does not claim to prove dogmatically that Paul is 
referring to national Israel in these quotations; but he would claim 
that this interpretation is a viable option which deserves serious 
consideration. Several weighty arguments favor a literal use of proph- 
ecy in these verses. 

G. N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (3 vols.; 1884; reprinted; Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1972), 1. 397. 

17 W. Kelly, Notes on the Epistle of Paul, the Apostle, to the Romans (1873; 
reprinted; Addison, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1978) 191-92. 

18 J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1962) 477-78. 

battle: paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 123 

Paul's normal hermeneutics 

Recently Paul's epistles have been subjected to increased study, 
especially since the advent of the Qumran literature. In general, it 
now is thought that Paul's hermeneutics resembles that of Palestinian 
much more than that of Hellenistic Judaism. Richard Longenecker 
has put it this way: 

Midrashic exegetical methods are prominent in the Pauline letters. In 
fact, it is midrashic exegesis more than pesher or allegorical exegesis 
that characterizes the apostle's hermeneutical procedures. 19 

Longenecker would not conclude that Paul never "Christianizes" the 
OT, yet for him Paul's starting-point is midrashic exegesis. 

In the majority of his Old Testament citations, Paul adheres to the 
original sense of the passage. Or, if he extends it, it is possible to 
understand his rationale if we grant him the Jewish presuppositions of 
"corporate solidarity" and "historical correspondences" and the 
Christian presuppositions of "eschatological fulfilment" and "messianic 
presence." 20 

Those who favor the spiritualizing approach in Rom 9:25-26 will say 
that here Paul uses the Christian presupposition of "eschatological 
fulfilment," while those who favor the argument from analogy might 
say he is using the Jewish presupposition of "historical correspon- 
dences." On the other hand, his usual method is to "adhere to the 
original sense of the passage" — in this case, seeing Israel as the object 
of these passages. 

Within midrashic exegesis there is a variety of possible interpreta- 
tions. The so-called seven rules of Hillel 21 would allow one to interpret 
the OT as an analogy (Rule 5, "general and particular": a particular 
rule may be expanded into a general principle) 22 , as well as with the 

19 R. N. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1975) 125-26. Longenecker effectively argues with E. E. Ellis and others, 
showing that there are very few if any real examples of allegorical or pesher exegesis in 
Paul's epistles (118-32). 

20 Ibid., 121. Cf. his earlier book Paul, Apostle of Liberty (New York: Harper & 
Row, 1964) 63, where he sees Paul employing "charismatic interpretation," i.e., "the 
letter as interpreted by Christ through the Spirit." 

21 Biblical Exegesis, 32-38; for a more technical treatment, see E. Schurer, The 
History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, rev. and ed. G. Vermes, 
F. Millar, and M. Black (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1979), 2. 343-45. 

However, this rule was used more with legal texts than with prophecies. 


"grammatical-historical" method (e.g., Rule 7, "context": the meaning 
is established by its context). In this regard, it should be noted that 
Paul often cites the OT with its own context in view (e.g., Rom 4:3, 9- 
11; 9:7-9; 15:12). Such an approach in Rom 9:25-26, if not otherwise 
ruled out by context, would be in harmony with Paul's normal 
exegesis of the OT. 

Background of the quotations 

Paul's argument throughout Romans 9 is built on the OT. In 
w 6-13 Paul draws from Genesis and Malachi to trace out God's 
election of Israel in history. In vv 14-18 he selects two passages from 
Exodus to demonstrate the sovereignty of that election and the role 
of the non-elect in relation to the elect in God's program. In the rest 
of the chapter Paul quotes several times from the prophets Isaiah and 
Hosea, with perhaps an allusion to Jeremiah, to show the results of 
this election for Israel's history and future. 

The remarkable thing about these quotations from the prophets 
is that, with the one exception of Isa 45:9, 23 every quotation comes 
from the same period in Isarel's history — the time of impending 
Assyrian conquest. This conquest came in three major stages: Tiglath- 
pileser III in 732 B.C., Shalmaneser V and Sargon II in 722 b.c. These 
quotations are charted below: 

verse in Romans 9 

passage quoted 


Isa 29:16; 45:9 


Hos 2:23 


Hos 1:10 


Isa 10:22-23 


Isa 1:9 


Isa 8:14; 28:16 

It is more significant that in each case the Assyrian judgment of 
Israel is the subject of the prophecy. Even in the case of v 20, 
Isa 29:16 appears to be looking forward to the Assyrian siege of 
Jerusalem in 701 b.c. 

Throughout all these prophecies runs the same theme: Israel 
rebels against the Lord; God raises up Assyria as his weapon to judge 
Israel; God preserves a remnant of Israel; God destroys Assyria for its 
pride; God restores Israel to repentance and blessing. For example, 
the passages quoted in vv 25-26 and 27-29 follow this pattern in their 

"Conservatives usually date the writing of Isaiah 40-66 between 701 and 686 B.C. 


own context; note especially Hos 1:6-1 1; 2:9-14, 19-23; 3:4-5; Isa 1:5-9; 
5:20-30; 7:17-20; 8:4; 10:5-27. With this background in view, it 
appears that the quotations in Rom 9:25-29 are describing the same 
phenomenon: the present but temporary status of Israel as a people 
largely unbelieving, disenfranchised, and under judgment by foreign 
nations. In this light w 25-26 emphasize neither Israel's future 
restoration nor the Gentiles' place in the church, but rather the 
prophetic forecast of Israel's present state in God's program — "not 
having received mercy," "not my people." 

Similarly, the quotations in v 33 fit beautifully with Paul's 
intention. In Isaiah 8 Judah falls before Assyria; in Isaiah 28 it is the 
northern kingdom of Israel which falls; in both cases Paul sees the 
same principle, which is still at work in his nation. Israel fell into her 
present state because she trusted in her own plots and schemes, rather 
than in God's mercy and deliverance (Isa 8:6, 12; 28:15). For this 
reason God judged her by means of Assyria (Isa 8:7-8, 14-15; 28:16- 
17). Israel failed to have true faith in God and his promises (Isa 8:6, 
13, 16-17; 28:16-19). Not only in Rom 9:25-26, but throughout the 
chapter the OT context provides valuable direction in elucidating 
Paul's meaning. 

"Vessels of wrath" as Israel's oppressors 

It is often assumed that the "vessels of wrath" in v 22 are the 
unbelieving Jews as in vv 6 and 31, while the "vessels of mercy" in 
v 23 are believers in the church. While v 24 does include believing 
Jews and Gentiles among the "vessels of mercy," one should not jump 
to the conclusion that the rest of the Jews are the "vessels of wrath." 
While Paul certainly considered individual unbelieving Jews as recip- 
ients of God's wrath and judgment (e.g. 1 Thess 2:14-16), he held a 
more optimistic view of his nation's future as a whole (Rom 11:11, 15, 
23-24, 26-29; cf. 2 Cor. 3:16). 

Yet there is another way to understand this designation, one 
which is in harmony with the immediate context and suggested by the 
OT usage. It is suggested that "vessels of wrath" in v 22 is Paul's 
designation for the heathen nations God uses to judge Israel. 

The preceding context in w 17-21 lends weight to this identifica- 
tion. To defend the sovereignty of God's election, Paul takes the 
example of Pharaoh. Quoting Exod 9:16, Paul shows that God 
ordained Pharaoh's power and his stubborn resistance in order to 
glorify his own greater power in the deliverance of Israel. The context 
of Exodus justifies Paul's approach (Exod 3:19-20; 4:21; 7:3-5, 13-14, 
22-23; 8:15, 32; 9:7, 12, 16, 34-35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4-5, 8, 17- 
18, 30-31). And indeed, God was glorified in Pharaoh's final defeat 


(cf. Moses' song in Exod 15:1-19). But the Egyptian oppression and 
deliverance also had its purposes in Israel's history and development: 
a family went down into Egypt; a nation came out of Egypt, a nation 
redeemed from bondage by the Lord. Pharaoh was a "vessel of 
wrath," an instrument used to oppress Israel for a time, and yet 
himself the final recipient of God's wrath in judgment. 

The immediate context of vv 22-24 also favors this understanding. 
There is only one independent verb in this sentence: "What if . . . God 
bore with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?" 
Several clauses modify this main verb: "desiring to show his wrath," 
"[desiring] to make known his power," "that he might make known 
the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy. ..." Note that these 
three purposes, to show his wrath, power, and riches of glory, are met 
by the single action of the verb. If the "vessels of wrath" are the 
unbelieving Jews, it is difficult to account for the expression Paul 
uses: God bears with much longsuffering unbelieving Jews, who are 
fitted for destruction. How does this patience toward the Jews display 
God's wrath and power? Would not it be better to say: he judges, 
punishes, or oppresses vessels of wrath? On the other hand, if Israel's 
oppressors are the "vessels of wrath," the statement makes perfect 
sense: God bears with much longsuffering heathen, godless nations, 
by allowing them to rule over Israel and the world, in order that he 
might use them as instruments to convey his wrath and power against 
unbelieving Israel, and in the end his glory and mercy to repentant 
Israel (along with believing Gentiles), when he destroys those wicked 
nations. In other words, these verses would equate God's longsuffering 
toward "vessels of wrath" with the state of Gentile supremacy over 
Israel, beginning in OT times and continuing intermittently into 
Paul's day. 

Finally, the following context of w 25-33 supports the identity of 
the "vessels of wrath" as Israel's oppressors. As seen above, all these 
quotations refer back to the Assyrian oppression in the second half of 
the eighth century. In many ways Assyria was a "vessel" of the Lord. 
The term "vessel" in the Greek NT and in the LXX is GKefJoq (in the 
LXX it normally represents v3), a word which designates not only 
dishes and household utensils, but a great variety of implements, 
including weapons (e.g., Deut 1:41; Judg 18: ll). 24 In Isa 13:5 the 
Medes are God's weapons to destroy Babylon; here the same Hebrew 
term v? is translated in the LXX by the related word onkov, 
"weapon." It is striking that Paul quotes Isa 10:22-23, which occurs in 

24 See the discussion of LXX usage in C. Maurer, "aKeuoi;," TDNT 7 (1971) 

battle: paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 127 

the very context of a lengthy passage describing Assyria as God's 
weapon against Israel (Isa 10:5-34). In this passage Assyria is called 
"the rod of my anger," "the club of my wrath," "the ax," "the saw" 
(w 5, 15, NIV). Assyria's career is described as follows: God is 
gracious to Assyria and uses it to punish Israel (vv 5-6, 23), Assyria 
becomes proud against God (vv 7-14), God destroys Assyria (w 5, 12, 
15-19, 24-34), Israel is blessed with victory and deliverance (w 17-23). 
This pattern fits exactly with that of Rom 9:22 — God's patience 
towards vessels of wrath used to display God's judgment and then his 
merciful deliverance of his people. 

It might be tempting at this point to interpret "vessels of wrath" 
in Rom 9:22 as "vessels which bring wrath." "Of wrath" is certainly a 
genitive of quality, "vessels characterized by wrath," 25 but in Paul's 
context the thought predominates that these vessels will receive God's 
wrath, just as the "vessels of mercy" will receive his mercy. So it is 
best to take this designation as referring to the planned destruction of 
these vessels (cf. "son of destruction" in 2 Thess 2:3). This is the same 
emphasis found concerning Assyria in Isaiah 10. 


In view of the evidence presented to support national Israel as 
the object of Rom 9:25-26, the six arguments mentioned earlier 
favoring a Gentile application can be answered adequately. 

1) Paul's mention of Gentile believers in v 24 does not contradict 
the interpretation suggested here. Paul obviously includes them among 
God's "vessels of mercy" and often states that they will share in the 
blessings promised to Israel (Rom 11:17-20; Gal 3:14; Eph 2:11-13, 
19; 3:6; cf. Matt 21:43). The question is the proper reference of the 
prophecy in vv 25-26. Since the word "Gentiles" appears immediately 
before the citation, many assume that Paul sees some reference to 
Gentiles in this prophecy. But the whole sentence in which the 
citation is found begins at v 22, and the main clause is, "What if God 
endured the vessels of wrath?" This interpretation would link the 
prophecy to the main clause of the sentence. It appears to this writer 
that Paul invokes Hosea's prophecies not to prove large-scale Gentile 
conversions, but to prove the temporary but very real nature of 
Israel's period of unbelief and disenfranchisement prior to her final 
restoration. The prophecies cited in w 27-29 continue that theme, 
while the nature of Gentile belief, introduced by Paul in v 24, is 
picked up in v 30. 

25 Nigel Turner, Syntax, Vol. 3 of J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament 
Greek (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963) 213. 


2) The 86 in v 27 is not a strong adversative and certainly does 
not demand a change of subject. The NIV leaves it untranslated. If 
there is any contrast indicated, it is simply between two different 
aspects of Israel's judgment. 

3) 1 Pet 2:10 was addressed primarily to Jewish believers 
1 Pet 1:1; Gal 2:9); and in any case, all recognize that only true 
believers can ever be members of God's promised kingdom (John 3:3). 

4) The argument concerning "vessels of wrath" is expanded in 
the previous section. 

5) All three quotations in Rom 10:19-21 (quoting Deut 32:21; 
Isa 65:1-2) prove the same point: God revealed himself more than 
sufficiently to Israel, so that she is without excuse. The occurrences of 
56 in w 20, 21 are again not strongly adversative. The "non-nation" 
in v 19 is, according to Deuteronomy, one of Israel's oppressors, and 
is favored by God only in this: he gives the "non-nation" power to 
oppress Israel before he destroys it (Deut 32:27, 36-43). The oppres- 
sion by these nations is another way God sought to reveal his will to 
Israel and bring her to repentance. V 20 emphasizes God's continuing 
to reveal himself to Israel, even as she refused to seek him, and v 21 
continues the quotation, emphasizing the continuing nature of this 
revelation and invitation. 

6) In Rom 10:19 Paul speaks of Israel's jealousy being aroused 
because of Gentile supremacy in the world (cf. Rom 9:22-24); with a 
play on words in Rom 11:11, 14, Paul seeks the same reaction by 
announcing Gentile supremacy in the church. Obviously, the believ- 
ing Gentiles of Romans 11 are not the oppressing powers of Deut 
32:21 and Rom 10:19; but in this dispensation, the two coincide in 
time. The "times of the Gentiles," in contrast to the OT period and 
the future millennial kingdom, witness Gentile supremacy in both the 
world and the church (Luke 21:24; Rom 11:25). The OT does have 
relevance for Paul's entire argument: it provides proof that, before 
Israel's restoration, she will experience a period of widespread un- 
belief, disenfranchisement, and subjugation to Gentile power, but that 
through these trials, and by means of them, God will bring her to 
repentance and restoration, thus fulfilling the covenants and promises 
(Rom 11:26, "in this manner all Israel will be saved"). Paul thus 
defines God's unchangeable election (Rom 9:6; 11:1, 28-29), defines 
his own ministry as it relates to that election (Rom 11:13-32), and 
declares the wondrous way God reveals his various attributes in this 
circuitous route leading to Israel's final salvation (Rom 9:11, 14-17, 
22-23; 11:22, 32-36). 

battle: Paul's use of the ot in rom 9:25-26 129 

With this understanding of Paul's argument, one could expand 
and paraphrase Rom 9:22-26 as follows: 

What if God exercises his sovereignty over Israel by permitting godless 
Gentile nations to rule over the earth — nations he ultimately will 
destroy? God is patient with these nations in order to use them as 
instruments to deal with his own people. As they oppress Israel, God is 
revealing his wrath and power against her; and as God will later 
destroy them and deliver his people, granting them repentance and 
restoration, he will thereby reveal the riches of his glory to that nation. 
Yes, Israel has been prepared by God to experience his mercy and 
share his glory, but this blessing will come only to those Israelites who 
repent and believe in him. For the present only some are believers, 
who, along with believing Gentiles, will share in these blessings. But 
most of the nation is still in rebellion and under God's displeasure and 
judgment; their restoration as a nation is still in the future; as it says in 
Hosea, "I will call them my people who were not my people, and her 
beloved who was not beloved; and where it was said to them, 'You are 
not my people,' there they will be called sons of the living God." 

This interpretation of Rom 9:25-26 maintains a consistent hermeneu- 
tic for the OT and NT and fits very well with Paul's exact terminology 
and development of argument in Romans 9-11. 


The Post -Darwinian Controversies 
John C. Whitcomb 

The Post- Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to 
Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900, by 
James R. Moore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Pp. 502. 

With 350 pages of closely reasoned historical analysis and an impeccable 
style, bolstered by 986 bibliographically illuminating endnotes and a 58-page 
bibliography, James R. Moore of England seeks to demonstrate the "theolog- 
ical orthodoxy" of Darwinism and to explain all significant Protestant 
responses to Darwin in both Great Britain and America during the last three 
decades of the nineteenth century in the light of this thesis. 

It is indeed a major undertaking, and the result is a masterpiece of 
historical erudition. It appears that no non-Catholic writer on either side of 
the Atlantic who interacted with Darwin's theory of organic evolution 
escapes Moore's attention (p. 11 and n. 18). All previous writers on the 
history of these controversies are criticized for their shallow or provincial 
approach in neglecting "the thousands of books and articles on evolution and 
religion that were published in the wake of The Origin of Species" (p. 7). 

The author, who serves as Lecturer in the History of Science and 
Technology in The Open University (England), wrote a doctoral thesis on this 
subject at the University of Manchester in 1975 (pp. x, 355 n. 23), and, with 
the aid of a generous grant, expanded his work into the present form early in 
1978, using the large library collection at Princeton Theological Seminary as 
well as bibliographic resources available in England. 

The basic thesis of the book is that a paradoxical harmony existed 
between true Darwinian evolutionism and Calvinistic/ trinitarian orthodoxy 
(pp. 15-16, 280, 289-95, 297-98, 308, 327, 334-36, 341, 345, 349, 398 n. 110), 
even though Darwin himself never saw this and finally abandoned Christian 
theism by sinking into deism and finally agnosticism (pp. ix, 15-16, 109, 276, 
315, 326-40, 346-51). 

In order to accomplish this incredible tour de force, Moore not only 
leaves no stone unturned in eliminating the idea of "warfare" and "militant 
conflict" between science and Christianity but, inevitably, redefines Christian 
"orthodoxy" to the total exclusion of all forms of "Biblical fundamentalism" 
with its "literalistic" hermeneutics. If Christianity could somehow be "trans- 
formed" and "rightly viewed" (pp. 1, 16), there could be no conflict with 


For "Fundamentalism" Moore has nothing but contempt. Because of 
their "deeply biased interpretations of the post-Darwinian controversies" 
(p. 69), "the movement of aggressive advocates of 'fundamental' Christianity 
which appeared in the United States about the year 1920" (p. 70) "could not 
remember the evangelical evolutionists among their ancestors" (p. 73) such as 
A. H. Strong, B. B. Warfield, James Orr, and G. F. Wright (pp. 71-72), and, 
thus, "bereft of intellectual leadership . . . panicked" (p. 74). Devoid of 
"Galilean charity . . . their indictments of modernism and evolution closely 
resembled Allied propaganda" which taught Americans "to hate Germany, 
that barbaric nation which, to the Fundamentalist way of thinking, had 
uniquely fostered critical and evolutionary thought." Now it became the duty 
of fundamentalists to avenge the "theological atrocities" committed by Ger- 
man critics against the Bible (p. 74). 

With rather obvious relish, Moore, the historical pacifist, militantly 
attacks all "zealous defenders of biblical literalism" who indulged in "monkey 
business" in their "campaign against evolution in education" (p. 75). Our 
author is not at all reticent in his description of how "the agnostic lawyer, 
Clarence Darrow . . . swung with the spirit of the moment" during the 
famous Scopes Trial of 1925, "taking advantage of the popular impression 
that the Bible and evolution were on trial to land a crushing blow on the 
premier representative of the Fundamentalist opposition [William Jennings 
Bryan], "making him talk nonsense" and "confess ignorance." Thus, "the 
Fundamentalists were reversed" and "the world could not stop laughing at 
their ignorance" (p. 76). 

Professor Moore presumably finds it inexcusable for the "defenders of 
biblical literalism" to have taken seriously the biblical commands to "fight the 
good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12; cf. 2 Tim 4:7) or to have utilized "the 
divinely powerful" "weapons of our warfare ... for the destruction of 
fortresses" (2 Cor 10:4). On the other hand, the evolutionary scientist 
Maynard Shipley "is perhaps to be excused for not always writing dispas- 
sionately and for omitting sufficient documentation in his 'short history of 
the Fundamentalist attacks on evolution and modernism'" (p. 75). Thus, 
while " 'the symbol of war . . . was an appealing one to the fundamentalist' " 
(p. 74, quoting Norman Furniss), "the military metaphor must be abandoned 
by those who wish to achieve historical understanding" (p. 76). 

Does James R. Moore, then, approach the history of science and 
Christianity without any bias whatsoever? No, he honestly believes that 
"Darwinism was the legitimate offspring of an orthodox theology of nature 
and . . . that, 'rightly viewed,' orthodox theological bottles proved to have 
been made expressly for holding the new Darwinian wine," even though "to 
reason thus may well invite the accusation that one is doing scarcely veiled 
apologetics" (p. 16). 

Our author's respect for Darwin — a respect that borders on reverence — 
is indeed "scarcely veiled." Darwin's "epoch-making discovery . . . made 
biological evolution for the first time scientifically cogent and theologically 
challenging" (p. 214). "Theory and prejudice were tempered with that caution 

whitcomb: the post-darwinian controversies 133 

which caused Darwin's scientific reputation to endure and with those noble 
virtues, comprised in the Golden Rule, which endeared his character to every 
race and class and nation" (p. 161; cf. p. 138). 

"Face to face with a mountain or a coral reef, the biblical chronology 
seemed nonsense" to Darwin. For him, "gratuitous explanatory concepts, 
from catastrophes to archetypes" were simply "weak and beggarly elements" 
(p. 152). In fact, there was no ultimate certainty in the natural world, except 
for the certainty that there is no fixity of biological species (pp. 87, 115, 214- 
16). All is vague and in a state of flux. Moore is convinced that "it was these 
beliefs about certainty and fixity which were primarily overthrown" by 
Darwin (p. 15). As for the fundamentalists who held to the chronologies and 
concepts of Genesis out of a sense of loyalty to the Christ who endorsed 
Genesis, "never again" after the Scopes Trial of 1925 would they "make front- 
page news across the nation" (p. 76). Thus, the only controversy that remains 
is "whether evolutionary theory demonstrates the need for a new religion to 
include the new idea of an evolving Universe or whether nothing more is 
needed than a transformed — or for the first time clearly understood — 
Christianity" (p. 16, quoting John Passmore). 

Moore does admit, however, that Darwin's theory faced some very 
serious problems. "Above all, Darwin's theory of natural selection demanded 
a vast amount of time" (p. 133), but "time, as we shall see, was precisely what 
Darwin was denied" (p. 129). William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin), a 
brilliant English physicist and mathematician, showed that the earth could 
not be as old as evolution demanded (p. 134 — though Moore does not seem 
to realize that even radioactivity has not invalidated Kelvin's arguments). 
Darwin commented to a friend: "I am greatly troubled at the short duration 
of the world according to Sir W. Thomson, for I require for my theoretical 
views a very long period before the Cambrian formation" (p. 135). 

Another problem was "missing links" in the fossil record. Speaking for 
Darwin, George Frederick Wright insisted, naively, that the geological record 
was "even in its best preserved sections, . . . poor and beggarly beyond 
description" (p. 288). Again, our author gives no evidence of comprehending 
the futility of such evolutionary rationalizations in the light of the obvious 
non-existence of whole chains of links — a fact increasingly recognized by 
leading paleontologists today. 

Darwin finally convinced himself that to believe in "miraculous creations" 
would make "my deity Natural Selection superfluous" (pp. 322, 344). But to 
say that "nature selects the fittest" is far from explaining where "the fittest" 
comes from. An obvious example of this is the fantastically complex human 
eye. Moore unforgivably dismisses the whole problem by saying that Darwin 
took this famous argument from design "as the piece de resistance for an 
omnivorous natural selection" (p. 309; cf. p. 255). 

A supreme tragedy — and absurdity — was Darwin's conviction that his 
own brain derived ultimately "from unreasoning lower animals by fixed 
biological laws," though this concept did give him, at least on one occasion, a 
"horrid doubt" concerning the validity of his own evolutionary reasonings 


(p. 321). Moore, of course, offers no solution to Darwin's dilemma. Alfred 
Russel Wallace, who independently "discovered" the theory of organic evolu- 
tion, profoundly disagreed with Darwin's view that man differs from the 
animals only in degree, not in kind (pp. 184-90). Darwin's answer, which 
Moore apparently shares, was that the evolution of humanity is analogous to 
the mystery of the development of the individual human soul (pp. 157, 280, 
337, 347). Darwin, of course, could not have known even the outlines of the 
veritable mountain of scientific evidence against such a concept which is 
available today. But Professor Moore should know better. 

The major portion of the volume provides a brilliant though biased 
analysis of the astounding variety of responses to Darwin on both sides of the 
Atlantic. Moore's heroes, of course, turn out to be the "Christian Darwinists" 
(i.e. theistic evolutionists), such as James Iverach and Aubrey Lackington 
Moore in Great Britain (pp. 252-69) and Asa Gray and George Frederick 
Wright in America (pp. 269-98). The villains, somewhat surprisingly, include 
not only the "Christian anti-Darwinians" such as F. O. Morris, E. F. Burr, 
L. T. Townsend, C. R. Bree, T. R. Birks, G. T. Curtis, and especially Charles 
Hodge and J. W. Dawson (pp. 196-205), but also a wide spectrum of "liberal 
Darwinists" and "Neo-Lamarckians" including St. George Mivart, Frederick 
Temple, John Bascom, Joseph LeConte, Thomas MacQueary, Lyman Abbott, 
Francis Howe Johnson, George Matheson, Henry Ward Beecher, Minot 
Judson Savage, John Fiske, Henry Drummond, and especially the popular 
Herbert Spencer (pp. 153-73, 217-51, 304-7). 

Somewhat beyond the comprehension of the present reviewer was Moore's 
theological classification system. Christian anti-Darwinians such as Charles 
Hodge and John William Dawson are labeled as "semi-deists" (p. 339) 
because "they believed that God may 'intervene' in the course of nature" 
(p. 328). " l A theory of occasional intervention [namely, special creation] 
implies as its correlative a theory of ordinary absence' — a doctrine which 
Titted in well with the Deism of the last century. . . . Cataclysmal geology and 
special creation are the scientific analogue of Deism'" (p. 264, quoting with 
approval A. L. Moore [1843-90]). 

Our author creates even greater theological confusion when he asserts 
that Christian Anti-Darwinism, which involved an endorsement of the fixity 
of biological species (= "after its kind" in Genesis 1 and Leviticus 11), was 
"largely an amalgam of biblical literalism and Neo-Platonism"and "may thus 
in fact have had little to do with Christian doctrines" because it was 
conditioned by "philosophical assumptions with which the Christian faith has 
been allied" (p. 215; cf. p. 15). The biblical literalism of anti-Darwinism, 
contrary to Moore's opinion, came from a consistent application of historical/ 
grammatical hermeneutics to the text of Genesis as confirmed by the Lord 
Jesus Christ, who referred to each of the first seven chapters of Genesis in a 
literal fashion, and by the NT writers, every one of whom referred to Genesis 
1-11 in a literal fashion. Neo-Platonism has had no influence whatsoever in 
the consistently biblical interpretation of Genesis with regard to supernatural 
creation or other doctrines. 

whitcomb: the post-darwinian controversies 135 

In complete contrast to the Christian Anti-Darwinians, "Christian 
Darwinism" is set forth as Christian, theistic, trinitarian, and Calvinistic! 
While acknowledging that Calvin himself was a strict creationist (p. 337), 
Moore nevertheless insists that it was "orthodox Calvinistic theology" 
which reconciled "providence and natural selection" and which demon- 
strated an ability "to reconcile 'chance' and providence, 'second causes' 
and a prima causa omnium," making provision for "even those events which 
seemed independent of or irreconcilable with divine purposes" (p. 334). Thus, 
in total contradiction to biblical revelation concerning creation, sin, and the 
curse, to say nothing of the scientific impossibility of natural selection as a 
mechanism for macroevolutionism, Moore makes divine sovereignty do 
service for Darwinism. Though Darwin finally disowned theism, our author 
assures us that his great discovery was the ultimate fruit of "the 'biblical' or 
classical Christian conception of God as Creator," which provided for "a free 
and perpetual Providence, the contingency of nature, and empirical methods 
in science," mediated through such thinkers as Bacon, Boyle, and Newton, 
and, at the dawn of the nineteenth century, William Paley and Thomas 
Robert Malthus (pp. 327-28, 308-26). Our author never explains, however, 
why "strict creationists" (such as Calvin himself!) could not hold such theistic 
views, nor why they necessarily led to a concept of evolutionism through 
natural selection. 

Nowhere, perhaps, is Moore's theological incompetence more clearly 
displayed than in his effort to wed Christian trinitarianism to Darwinian 
evolutionism. Determined somehow to canonize Darwin as an unwitting 
apostle of the Church (who, "under the guise of a foe, did the work of a 
friend," quoting A. L. Moore, p. 268), our author uses Leon Festinger's 
theory of cognitive dissonance ("perhaps the most influential general theory 
of attitude change" — p. 14) to show how beautifully "Anglo -Catholic theol- 
ogy and its doctrine of divine immanence . . . made its contribution to the 
reduction of dissonance between Darwinism and Christian beliefs" (p. 337). 
Somehow equating "God's triune nature" with "divine immanence" — a colos- 
sal theological blunder — Moore suggests that the reconciliation of Christianity 
and Darwinism "comes in a fresh appreciation of God's triune nature and a 
fearless reassertion' of 'the old almost forgotten truth of the immanence of 
the Word, the belief in God as "creation's secret force."' No less a doctrine 
will accommodate both Darwinism and theistic belief (p. 337, again quoting 
A. L. Moore). Those who are knowledgeable in the history of science and 
theology will surely be astounded to learn that Darwinism "has helped the 
Church to recover an understanding of God's triune nature that was obfus- 
cated by the deism of the Enlightenment" (p. 268). 

"The great and learned Charles Hodge (1797-1878)," for over fifty years 
professor of exegetical, didactic, and polemical theology at Princeton Theo- 
logical Seminary, whose "three thousand former students carried forth his 
'Princeton Theology,' the Calvinism of the Westminster divines . . . and 
the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture" (p. 203), certainly 
did not view Darwinism in that light! Toward the end of his life, in a 


carefully written analysis entitled, What is Darwinism?, Hodge concluded 
that it was another form of atheism, because it replaced God's revelation in 
both Scripture and nature with human speculations (p. 204). 

Although Moore politely dismisses Charles Hodge as "the last great 
representative of Calvinistic orthodoxy before the spread of the modern 
historical consciousness" (p. 204), he was far more than that. He was, in this 
reviewer's opinion, the most discerning thinker among all the participants in 
"the post-Darwinian controversies" of the nineteenth century. He was anti- 
Darwinian simply because he saw, far more clearly than others in the vast 
spectrum of theological interaction with Darwin's theories, that the deifica- 
tion of natural selection involved a destruction of both true science and true 
biblical Christianity. He would, perhaps, be even more horrified to read 
Moore's conclusion that "Christian Darwinians were notably orthodox in 
their beliefs" and that "it was their orthodox theology, in fact, which 
determined [!] that some Christians could become Darwinians" (p. 341). 

Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey), the 
reviewer's alma mater, mainly through the influence of Charles Hodge (who 
served as president of its board) remained "a thoroughly orthodox Presby- 
terian institution" in spite of the fact that James McCosh (181 1-94) assumed 
the presidency in 1868 (pp. 245, 385 n. 81). McCosh was a strong Darwinian 
except on the question of human origins and "did not occupy his new post 
for a week before expressing to the upper classes of the College that he was 
fully in favour of evolution, provided that it was 'properly limited and 
explained'" (p. 246). 

Ten years later, an even greater tragedy (in the reviewer's opinion) befell 
American Christianity: "After Hodge's death in 1878 his students and col- 
leagues could safely entertain an evolutionary account of creation" (p. 241). 
One of his students, who had previously graduated from the College, was 
Joseph S. Van Dyke, author of a mild endorsement of Darwinism entitled, 
Theism and Evolution (1886). Sadly, Hodge's own son and successor as 
professor of theology at the Seminary, Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823- 
86), "must be credited for placing his imprimatur, the honoured name of 
Hodge" upon this volume by writing its introduction. "Surely this, coming in 
the last year of his life, was a turning point for the acceptance of evolution 
among American Protestants" (pp. 242, 307). 

Although many lesser voices continued to be raised against Darwinism 
(pp. 11, 93), including those of the greatly despised "Fundamentalists" of the 
1920s (pp. 68-76), it is a solemn fact that by the time of the Darwin 
centennial of 1959, significant opposition to evolutionism had all but ended 
in the western world. If it had been written in the early 1960s and if its bizarre 
form of theistic evolutionism had not been included, Moore's book might 
have convinced many that Darwinism was here to stay. 

But all this has changed. During the 1970's a veritable army of highly 
trained scientists, analogous to those who first opposed Darwin's theory 
(pp. 80-88), arose in Great Britain as well as in America to take a strong 
stand against the theological distortions of Genesis and the philosophic 
distortions of the fossil record, genetic and thermodynamic laws and astro- 
nomic evidence which have been perpetrated for over a hundred years in the 

whitcomb: the post-darwinian controversies 137 

name of evolutionism (see, e.g., Henry M. Morris, ed., Scientific Creationism 
[San Diego: Creation Life Publishers, 1974], and a partial listing of the 
writings of forty of the more prominent creation scientists of this generation 
in John C. Whitcomb and Donald B. De Young, The Moon: Its Creation, 
Form, and Significance [Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1978], pp. 166-69). 

In conclusion, James R. Moore has devoted years of skillful efforts to 
create an ephemeral mirage: a non-biblical form of theism wedded to an 
unscientific concept of life history on planet earth. He could therefore be the 
last great representative of theistic evolutionism before the rise of late 
twentieth century scientific creationism. The true Church of Jesus Christ still 
awaits a definitive work on the history of science and theology, utilizing valid 
historiographic methodology and style and saturated with the theological 
presuppositions of Christ and the apostles. May that day soon come! 


Basic Principles of Biblical Counseling, by Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1975. Pp. 111. $6.95. 

After reviewing the Freudian, Rogerian, Skinnerian, and Existential 
approaches, Dr. Crabb concludes that "Scientific methodology is not ade- 
quate to establish the validity of any one view of man's basic nature. Without 
the weight of certainty, each system is a floating anchor. Selecting a basic 
position on the nature of man, the universal so badly needed in the field of 
counseling, resembles a random throw at the dart board unless some objec- 
tive source of knowledge is available. To find certainty, there is simply no 
avenue to pursue but revelation." 

Dr. Crabb argues that a person's basic need for significance is to be 
found in the facts (1) that he is a person existing in the image of God, and (2) 
God has a sovereign program and is sovereignly controlling events in his life 
(pp. 52-61). 

For Crabb, the order for biblical counseling is to "correct the beliefs, 
align the behavior with the beliefs, then enjoy the resultant good feelings: 
fact-faith-feeling. Any variation from that order will not work" (p. 54). His 
approach may be summarized as follows: Get the counselee to correct his 
thinking in conformity with the Bible, get him to accept (be content with) 
God's sovereign provision for him, get him to accept responsibility for 
confessing and forsaking sin and for proper behavior as strengthened by God. 

Jay Adams has emphasized the necessity for changed behavior. Crabb, 
on the other hand, has emphasized the necessity for changed thinking. To this 
nonphilosophical and pragmatic reviewer, this distinction concerns emphasis 
and semantics more than essential difference. Adams, obviously, does not 
advocate unchanged thinking, nor does Crabb advocate unchanged behavior. 
Both equally advocate confession of sin and obedience to God. 

While not in objection to content, the subtitle, "Meeting Counseling 
Needs Through the Local Church," does not seem to be justified by the 
content of the book. The book affirms that the fellowship of the local church 
provides the "essential environment for healing and restoration" but does not 
deal with the matter of how counseling needs are met through the church. 
There are only a few typographical flaws (see pp. 35, 71, 97, fifth printing). 

Christians should rejoice that God has raised up men such as Larry 
Crabb to resist the morally deadening consequences of humanistic psy- 
chology. His approach is certainly biblical in that it honors and exalts the 
Bible and Christian in that it honors and exalts Christ. 

Charles R. Smith 


Effective Biblical Counseling, by Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1977. Pp. 191 (with 8 unnumbered pages of chart appendix). $6.95. 

In the Introduction and in Chapter One, Crabb asserts that biblical 
counseling is essentially a relationship between people who care. He then 
outlines the goal of biblical counseling — Christian maturity. 

In Chapter Two, Crabb presents four basic approaches to the rela- 
tionship of Christianity and secular psychology. The first is that they are 
"Separate but Equal." According to this approach, Christianity and psy- 
chology operate in two essentially distinctive areas. Christianity deals with 
spiritual and theological issues whereas psychology deals with the supposedly 
unrelated mental health issues. Crabb rightly objects that most psychological 
malfunctions stem from problems like guilt, resentment, anxiety, uncon- 
trolled appetites, etc. — matters about which the Bible speaks extensively and 

The second approach he labels as the "Tossed Salad" model. This 
approach freely integrates items from both sources. The major objection is 
that psychologically interpreted data contradictory with biblical data are 
often uncritically tossed into the mixture. 

The third approach is labeled as the "Nothing Buttery" model. In this 
model, secular psychology is ignored and the appeal is for nothing but the 
Bible for psychological guidance. 

Though recognizing that only the Bible can speak with absolute author- 
ity, Crabb favors a fourth approach which he labels as the "Spoiling the 
Egyptians" model. This approach is willing to accept and employ those 
aspects of secular psychological theory which are in harmony with revelation. 
He validly cites a number of psychological concepts which are taught by 
secular men yet are in conformity with biblical data. 

This reviewer does not object to Crabb's proposed model. The concept 
of recognizing truth wherever it occurs is valid. And secular psychologists can 
be of great help in discovering truths regarding such matters as the effects of 
sleeplessness, oversleeping, diet, fasting, drugs, T.V., and a host of such 
matters. But when it comes to basic issues such as personal responsibility, 
etc., one wonders who has done the "spoiling." In other words, in the 
tnajority of issues it is the "Egyptians" who have done the "spoiling," or 
borrowing! We are glad for the fact that Glasser, for example, has discovered 
some aspects of the truth. But did we learn anything from him in this matter 
that we did not already know from the Bible? In issues of this kind, are we 
borrowing anything? As stated earlier, these questions should not be reviewed 
as objections to Crabb's approach, but only as personal qualifications or 
limitations for the terminology. 

In Chapter Three, Crabb reasserts the thesis of his earlier work, Basic 
Principles of Biblical Counseling, that humans have two basic needs — for 
significance and for security. These can be met only by understanding (1) who 
we are in Christ and (2) his infinite power and purpose for our welfare. 

Chapter Four asserts that behavior is motivated by attempts to meet felt 
needs. A Christian can become truly productive in his relationship with 
others only when he realizes that all his own needs are met in Christ. 


Chapter Five presents a psycho-anatomy of an unsaved person and of a 
committed believer. The essential difference is in the believer's acceptance of 
the Bible for correction of his thinking and his behavior. An interesting 
minor point is the assertion that the human will is free (p. 100) but is bound 
due to the fact of its union with a darkened and bound understanding 
(p. 101). This may be a useful theological abstraction but it is even more 
difficult to distinguish between the mind and the will than between the mind 
and the emotions. Another interesting side-point is the contention that "the 
criterion for distinguishing between non-sin-related negative emotions and 
sin-related ones is this: any feeling which is mutually exclusive with compas- 
sion involves sin" (p. 103). Crabb avoids mere Fletcherism here, but it is 
doubtful that this test should be used as the single determinant. Such a test 
might lead to the conclusion that I am more compassionate (and thus more 
righteous!?) than God since his plan results in suffering and torment for sin 
whereas mine (incorrectly) would not. Crabb needs to qualify or explain this 
point more thoroughly. 

Chapter Six points out that problems arise when there is invalid (unbib- 
lical) thinking regarding how to meet one's needs. People are motivated to 
meet whatever goal they assume will meet their needs. 

Chapter Seven states that problems develop when obstacles prevent a 
person from achieving his perceived goal. The obstacle of an unreachable 
goal produces guilt. The obstacle of external circumstances produces resent- 
ment. The obstacle of fear of failure produces anxiety. 

Chapter Eight asks the question, "What do you try to change?" The 
answer is, we must change the "belief that we need anything other than God 
and what He chooses to provide to meet our personal needs for significance 
and security" (p. 145). 

In Chapter Nine, Crabb argues that the concept of nouthetic (confron- 
tational) counseling, while often valid, is too limited. He agrees with Carter 
that parakaleo (about 113 occurrences including cognates) provides a more 
comprehensive basis for Christian counseling than does noutheted (about 13 
occurrences). He then presents the following model for counseling: (1) 
Identify and empathize with problem feelings, (2) Identify problem behavior, 
(3) Identify problem thinking, (4) Then clarify biblical thinking (to do this it 
is helpful to (a) identify where the wrong thinking was learned, (b) encourage 
expression of emotions surrounding the belief, (c) support the client in 
changing his thinking, (d) teach the client what to fill his mind with), (5) 
Secure commitment to act in accord with the new thinking, (6) Plan and 
carry out biblical behavior, and (7) the last stage, identify Spirit-controlled 
(biblical) feelings. 

The closing chapter (Ten) presents a model for counseling within a local 
church. While it is obvious that different levels of training, spiritual maturity, 
and personality development will produce Christian counselors with differing 
levels of ability, the validity of Crabb's proposal for three levels dealing with 
Feelings (Level I), Behaviors (Level II), and Thinking (Level III) was not 
obvious to this reviewer. What is very obvious is that the members of any 
church, or other group of Christians, would be benefited by such loving 
biblical concern and counsel. 


This extensive review seems warranted both by the significance of the 
subject and by the significance of Crabb's contribution. Highly recommended. 
(Typographical errors occur on pp. 167 and 184). 

Charles R. Smith 

Christian Ethics For Today, by Milton L. Rudnick. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1979. Pp. 150. $7.95. 

It is a nearly impossible task these days to maintain pace with the 
staggering production of books pertaining to matters moral and ethical. 
Many of these volumes end in treading upon eash other, thus neutering their 
impact. One almost wants to cry out, "Cease and desist!" However, Milton 
Rudnick has made a unique and helpful contribution to ethical studies. His 
book has many virtues. Perhaps the first attention-getter, at least to this 
reviewer, was that he had adopted a rules-deontology theory. In the interest 
of balance he softens this with a "contextualist bent" (p. 10) and with his 
explanation that he sees it more "as a way of asking questions" (p. 21). As 
Dr. Rudnick laments, there are few rules-deontologists in print today. This is 
obviously the case because society is becoming increasingly relativistic, with 
the "rule" of the day seeming to be that there are no rules. 

Rudnick's profession of a high view of Scripture is refreshing (pp. 15-17) 
and is demonstrated throughout. His criticism that many evangelical pastors 
and educators are not prepared and capable in the field of ethics is both a 
needed and well-taken rebuke to evangelical colleges and seminaries which 
have failed to train in this area of thought (p. 20). His priority structure 
placing honor to God and service to others ahead of personal self-interest is 
on target in the midst of an incredibly self-oriented age (pp. 40-41). Though 
devoid of exegetical support, his definition of biblical love as selfless giving 
and commitment to others is helpful (p. 63). His opposition to the contem- 
porary notion that justice is to take the form of egalitarianism or a utilitarian 
ethic is refreshing, although this discussion could have been fleshed out 
considerably. The chapter on the place of reason and its subservience to 
divine revelation (pp. 75-88) is a fine contribution in an age where secularists 
worship unrestrained reason and many conservative evangelicals may be 
characterized by ignorance and blindness. 

While this volume is a well-organized and helpful volume in many 
respects, it is not without its faults. Its discussion of the sin problem which 
man faces and the salvation which he so desperately needs could be stated 
more accurately and strongly (pp. 35ff). Salvation is made to sound more like 
a reform movement than the magnificent, supernatural regeneration which it 
is. The chapter entitled "Corruption" (chap. 1) needs revision and strength- 
ening. Confusion is created in the use of the phrase "our creation by God" 
(p. 27) and the author's apparent, yet vague, affirmation of traducianism 
(p. 28). At first reading, Satan appears to be given too much credit for sin (e.g., 
pp. 26ff) with too little emphasis upon man's intrinsic depravity. The tendency 
to soften the blow by redefining sin and depravity as "deficiency" (p. 27) is a 
distraction. The discussions on love (e.g., p. 37), self-image (p. 26), and 


obedience (p. 61) are quite fluffy and need improvement. The author's 
affirmation of sacramentalism will discourage many from reading objectively 
(pp. 95-96). In the midst of helpful material on disobedience and its conse- 
quences, there is a disconcerting statement about a destroyed faith resulting 
in "damnation" which appears to imply the prospect of loss of salvation 
(P- 43). 

Unfortunately, there are a few more serious flaws in Rudnick's work. 
Although he is a confessed theologian, his minimal use of Scripture and the 
absence of any exegetical work detract from the book. Further, he becomes 
very "mystical" at times, especially in his development of the role of the Holy 
Spirit (e.g., pp. 47-48, 91-92, 102, 136, 140, etc.). While this reviewer certainly 
does not reject a place and role for the Spirit of God, it seems that Rudnick's 
emphasis upon "inner guidance," "impulses," "contact," "guidance from 
within," "communicating," and "sense or feel" are a bit overdone for a rules- 
deontologist. There should have been at least an equal amount of space given 
to explicating the precepts and principles of Scripture which constitute the 
rule of faith and practice. The imbalance could lead undiscerning readers to 
assume that the preeminent principle is to be that "still, small voice within" 
who will reveal insights to us, rather than the written, propositional revelation 
of God. The author gives the impression that God is still giving revelation 

Another defect, serious in its potential for misunderstanding, is the 
assertion that "in the Bible God has not answered all of our ethical questions, 
nor has He resolved all of our moral problems" (p. 53). This is akin to saying 
that the Bible is not an adequate guide to twentieth- century man! The Bible 
certainly is adequate and is replete with material to guide the believer through 
the moral bog of this era. This is especially true in the very illustrations which 
Rudnick cites as not under the umbrella of biblical revelation. 

A final flaw to be singled out here is the discussion of self-acceptance or 
self-image (pp. 69-70). Borrowing too heavily from modern secular psy- 
chology, Rudnick encourages people to focus on themselves and what they 
do not have. Such statements as "The truth is that sound and healthy self- 
esteem is a gift from others, based on their attitudes and actions. Only the 
person who has been loved can love self and others" (p. 70), or "There is a 
sense in which it is true that before a Christian can love others, he must be 
able to love himself" (p. 69), or "Their personal comfort and confidence, as 
well as their ability to function effectively, depends to a significant degree 
upon the amount of loving respect which they receive from others. A healthy 
and positive self-image is essential to happiness ..." (p. 64) are in need of 
serious re-evaluation. The endorsement of "happiness" as a goal of life as well 
as the apparent permission given wherein people have no ethical capacities or 
responsibilities to others until their own self-esteem needs are met, is every- 
where rejected in the Scriptures (e.g., Luke 6:27-38; 9:22-24). Indeed, the 
Bible states that self-love and self-esteem are the problems of the age, not the 
solution (e.g., 2 Tim. 3:1-5). 

There are a few mechanical faults, as well. Due to its lack of docu- 
mentation and references, the book will not aid the serious student in his 


study and research. There are a few typographical errors, but these do not 
seriously detract. Hopefully, there will soon be a paperback edition which 
will make the book more accessible to students. 

In spite of these faults, Dr. Rudnick, who is associate professor of 
religion and theology at Concordia College in St. Paul, Minnesota, has made 
a valuable contribution. His personal burden and hortatory style is refreshing. 
This reviewer shares Rudnick's concern that the evangelical community is ill- 
prepared to make value judgments and ethical decisions and consequently has 
remained a spectator in this domain. If we believe that we represent the truth 
of God, we should be on the cutting edge of the debates and decision- 
making processes. 

W. Merwin Forbes 

Reason Enough: A Case For The Christian Faith, by Clark H. Pinnock. 
Downers Grove: Inter Varsity, 1980. Pp. 126. $3.50. Paper. 

Nearly fifteen years after writing a small handbook on Christian evi- 
dences and apologetics entitled, Set Forth Your Case (1967), Clark H. 
Pinnock, Professor of Systematic Theology at McMaster Divinity School, 
Ontario, Canada, now sets forth a fresh case in the form of five circles of 
evidences for "the truth claims of the Christian message." These circles are: 
(1) The Pragmatic: Does the Gospel give life meaning? (2) The Experiential: 
Is religious experience credible? (3) Cosmic: Do the heavens really declare the 
glory of God? (4) Historical: Did the Son of God actually come to earth? (5) 
Corporate: Does Christian faith change lives? 

The writing style of this handbook is smooth and flowing, with one 
thought building impressively upon another. It is the type of work that will 
attract students on university campuses who want to see their unsaved friends 
come to a saving knowledge of Christ. But it is, nevertheless, a dangerous 
book, for it seriously dilutes the biblical message in order to make it 
rationally appealing to the unregenerate reader. 

Pinnock protects himself from the charge of pure rationalism by assuring 
his readers that he is "not aiming at rational proof, but rather at a testing of 
faith in the light of knowledge which will enable you to take that step of 
commitment without sacrificing your intellect" (p. 18; cf. p. 69). But such 
assertions are modified by his insistence that Christian truth claims must be 
rationally tested (pp. 11, 12, 13, 17, 37, 38). Nothing is said here of the self- 
authenticating witness of the Word of God through the convicting work of 
the Holy Spirit of God (Heb 4:12, 1 John 2:20, 27). Sadly, all one can hope 
for at the end of Pinnock's long tunnel of rationalistic analysis is "reasonable 
probability" (pp. 88-89). Conspicuously absent from this book are the 
acclamations of total spiritual confidence and assurance that we read from 
the pens of the apostles as models for true Christian experience (cf. 2 Tim 
1:12; 1 John 4:6). 

Great indeed are the losses for revealed truth which this system of 
apologetics necessarily entails. In the first place, the biblical teaching on 
human sin is drastically modified. "It may be that the Christian conviction 


about human sin has been overstated at times, particularly by the Augustin- 
ian tradition" (p. 33). Unbelievers are politely asked "to approach the subject 
[of Jesus' claims] with an open mind" (p. 75). The author is "not asking 
anyone to accept the text [of the NT] uncritically, but only to give it a fair 
hearing which the facts demand" (p. 78). The desperate wickedness of the 
human heart which Jeremiah described (Jer 17:9) and which Paul explained 
in terms of the consequent limitations of rationalistic apologetics (1 Cor 2:14) 
is reduced to a mild question concerning those who reject the resurrection of 
Christ: "I wonder about whether they are really honest" (p. 89). 

In the light of this, we are not overly surprised to discover that "all 
religions emphasize the need to develop and mature in the spiritual disciplines 
that lead to the knowledge of God" (p. 44). The reader is assured, however, 
that "all religions are not true in the same way" (p. 45). Pinnock is quite 
unhappy that "Freud is guilty of willfully caricaturing all the great religions" 
(p. 1 12). As far as our own American culture is concerned, "the popularity of 
motion pictures like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars . . . 
express essentially religious themes, and people are responding out of their 
very human hunger for worship. They are feeling the truth of Jesus' words: 
'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his 
own soul?' (Mark 8:36 KJV)" (p. 42). This is far different from the epistemo- 
logical "common ground" noted in the Bible (cf. Rom 1:18-25). 

Our author openly acknowledges: "I certainly go through periods in my 
life when God seems distant from me or I from Him." Is this an evidence of 
sin? Not necessarily! "I don't think this is always due to failure on my part" 
(p. 44). 

Sin is apparently not an infinitely serious matter for Dr. Pinnock. The 
condition of heathen who never hear the Gospel is not to him an overly 
serious matter either (pp. 45, 110; cf. his article, "Why Is Jesus The Only 
Way?" Eternity [Dec, 1976] 13 ff.). But what about those who hear and 
reject the true Gospel? At this point, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and 
of the apostles could be effectively used by the Holy Spirit to create deep 
conviction. But instead of this, we read simply: "I predict great sadness and 
self-destruction in this life and in the life to come" (p. 36). But what about the 
terrifying descriptions of an eternal hell found in Holy Scripture? Pinnock 
does not apparently see any great cause for alarm here, for "Christians are 
themselves to blame for adding to the scriptural imagery and for interpreting 
word pictures so literally" (p. 117). What, then, is hell? "The punishment, I 
believe, will not be so much torment visited upon lost souls as it will be the 
sorrow of having chosen to play god to the end and reaping the harvest of 
that choice" (p. 117). 

For those who may consider the early chapters of Genesis a stumbling 
block to their evolutionary presuppositions, Dr. Pinnock has comforting 
words: "The Bible does not date the creation of the human race, nor does it 
describe the methods God employed in its formation. Whether it took 
millions of years or only a shorter period is not part of Christian essentials" 
(p. 109). 

Karl Barth's heresies provide a major source of Pinnock's radical view 
that Gen 1 :2 gives "the impression of some kind of dark opposition to God's 


will and Word. The Bible makes little effort to elucidate the origin and 
precise nature of this dark reality which threatens God's rule, and therefore 
we lack the full explanation we might like" (p. 115). Pinnock borders on 
blasphemy when he lists Jesus with Karl Barth among six "intellectual and 
spiritual giants who wrestled with the need to be critical and honest as well as 
devout" (p. 112). 

Further evidence of how far we have fallen from the great convictions of 
the Reformation period is found in Pinnock's reference to a pronouncement 
from Vatican II as "perhaps the strongest public statement ever made by a 
Christian body expressing the power of the Gospel to change culture" (p. 102; 
cf. p. 93). Mother Theresa, a Roman Catholic social worker in Calcutta, is 
highly praised because "she gains her inspiration and vision from the Church, 
a community founded on Jesus' own revolution of love" (p. 102). A 
"charismatic prayer community in El Paso, Texas" (p. 102), and a "network 
of radical Christian communities springing up in city and countryside" 
(p. 105), receive their share of praise because of various social activities. 

All in all, this volume, presumably aimed by its publisher (InterVarsity 
Press) at the student population of the English-speaking world, will further 
contribute to the deep theological confusion that characterizes so many 
campus Christian groups. Because such a methodology is compatible with the 
natural man's compulsion to assert his autonomy, it will ultimately defeat its 
own alleged purpose to bear an effective witness for Christ. There is obvi- 
ously a greater need than ever before for a volume that effectively presents 
the biblical concept of how to "sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart, always 
being ready to make a defense [that is, a biblical defense, cf. 1:23] to every 
one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with 
gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet 3:15 NASB). 

John C. Whitcomb 

The Epistle of Saint James, by Joseph B. Mayor. Minneapolis: Klock & 
Klock, 1977 (originally published 1892). $15.95. 

To have this classic work on James back in print is a great benefit to all 
serious students of the epistle. Attractively bound, and introduced with a new 
Foreword by Cyril J. Barber, this volume will continue to serve English 
readers for years to come. 

Mayor's work on James is well deserving of its reputation as the "classic" 
volume on this epistle. In addition to its comments, and the extremely 
valuable notes on the Greek text, the volume includes 291 pages of introduc- 
tory material on a wide variety of topics. Extensive discussion is given 
regarding authorship, which Mayor attributes to the Lord's brother, reader- 
ship, date (Mayor places it between a.d. 40 and 50, p. cl), authenticity, and its 
relation to other New Testament books and the earlier writings. 

An especially helpful contribution, rarely found in more recent commen- 
taries, is a section of two chapters dealing with the grammar and style of 
James. Discussion and analysis occurs on such things as inflexions, syntax, 
pronouns, number and gender, cases, participles, ellipses, and pleonasm. "On 


the whole," Mayor states, "I should be inclined to rate the Greek of this 
Epistle as approaching more nearly to the standard of classical purity than 
that of any other book of the N.T. with the exception perhaps of the Epistle 
to the Hebrews" (p. ccxliv). 

A fascinating treatment of style is another valuable feature of this book, 
covering in detail James' usage of metaphor and simile (derived from rural 
life, the sea and stars, domestic life, and public life), paranomasia, alliteration 
and homoeoteleuta, asyndeton, and rhythm (pp. ccxlix-cclix). An extended 
bibliography is also given, although it must be supplemented with more 
recent works for today's readers. 

This book is highly recommended for serious study of the epistle of 
James. It contains a rich mine of material for teachers and preachers. In the 
estimation of this reviewer, Mayor on James is still the classic on the subject. 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

Fundamentalism, by James Barr. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978. Pp. 379. 
$7.95. Paper. 

The Library of Congress Cataloging Data lists this book under the 
index, "Controversial Literature," and well it should. This most provocative 
work, by the Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at 
Oxford University, is indeed a controversial, yet fine work. The reviewer 
could hardly put this book down. Not only is it full of genuine insights, but 
as one reviewer has remarked, "Evangelicalism can never again be the same." 

What interest, one might ask, does James Barr have in Bob Jones, John 
R. Rice, and the Sword of the Lord 1 } The answer is none. For Barr, a 
fundamentalist is basically a person with a high view of Scripture. Therefore, 
this book concerns fundamentalists (?) like Bernard Ramm, George Ladd, 
J. I. Packer, K. A. Kitchen and E. J. Carnell. 

The answer to the question, "What is fundamentalism?" is not given in a 
one-sentence or even a one-page definition. Rather, the entire book is given 
over to the task of defining this question. On page v he comments that 
"evangelicalism is not fundamentalism; rather, fundamentalism distorts and 
betrays the basic true religious concerns of evangelical Christianity, and its 
[sic] does this especially through its intellectual apologetic." 

Generally, fundamentalism ("a group of characteristics which most 
Christians do not approve of or like") is characterized by: 

A. a very strong emphasis on the inerrancy of the Bible, the absence 
from it of any sort of error; 

B. a strong hostility to modern theology and methods, as well as the 
results and implications of modern, critical study of the Bible; 

C. an assurance that those who do not share their religious viewpoints 
are not really Christians at all (cf. p. 1). 

Those who have received their training at Grace Seminary, or who are 
familiar with the writings of its faculty concerning creation, will especially 
enjoy reading pp. 40ff. Barr rightly shows that many "fundamentalists" (like 


Thompson, Kline, and Kidner) do not accept Genesis 1-2 literally because it 
does not appear to be consistent with science. He derides these types of 

Chapter six is the most "soul searching" chapter in the book and should 
be read by all fundamentalists (all types of fundamentalists). Barr maintains 
that fundamentalists are guilty of merely passing along doctrine and not 
really doing theology. The reviewer must sadly admit that, in many cases, this 
is true. It is a challenge to evangelical theologians to become serious about 
the task which faces them. Evangelicals have made advanced strides in the 
areas of backgrounds and linguistic studies, but very little theologizing has 
been accomplished. By God's grace, may we accept this challenge and seek to 
remedy this failure on our part. 

The book closes by identifying fundamentalism as "Mainly Personal 
Attitudes" (chap. 10). Barr seems to find it incredible that such outstanding 
scholars as R. K. Harrison, E. F. Harrison, Kenneth Kantzer, etc., can 
remain fundamentalists or evangelicals. He claims to find a breath of fresh air 
in what he refers to as the "new conservatives." 

A book of this kind needed to be written and deserves to be read. Yet, it 
would have been better if it had been written by a true evangelical making an 
honest evaluation of fundamentalism. Perhaps this still will be done by 
someone in the near future. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 

The Future of the Bible, by Jakob van Bruggen. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 
1978. Pp. 192. $3.95. Paper. 

Jakob van Bruggen's The Future of the Bible is a disturbing book. Its 
author, Professor of NT Exegesis at the Reformed Theological College in 
Kampen, The Netherlands, calls into question and stringently criticizes a 
number of rather basic assumptions in contemporary Bible translating circles. 
The thesis of the book is that the principles and philosophies which prevail in 
modern Bible translating are woefully inadequate, and it is time for a return 
to the type of text and to the philosophy of translation which prevailed in 
earlier times. The "future of the Bible" is somewhat dismal and bleak, unless 
such a return is forthcoming. 

The contents of the book may be briefly described. The first two 
chapters present a historical perspective on the translation of the English 
Bible. Here van Bruggen discusses some of the shifts which have occurred 
over the years with regard to attitude and procedure in Bible translation. In 
general, the author favors the "well-attested collective opinion" of the past, 
and advocates acceptance of change only with "great caution" (p. 54). 
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the work and principles of modern Bible societies. 
Van Bruggen points out that whereas the Bible societies originally saw as 
their task the distribution of existing translations of the Scriptures, they now 
are increasingly involved in new translation of the Bible. This, the author 


feels, is a problem because (1) the societies are para-church organizations 
which no longer view their task solely as a service to the churches, but as 
their own inherent duty towards modern society, and (2) they are guided by 
the principle of dynamic equivalence, which has led to an increasing role in 
exegesis and biblical introduction within the translations. Chapter 4 deals 
exclusively with van Bruggen's objections to the dynamic equivalence theory. 
A number of biblical examples are used to illustrate the inadequacies of the 
new approach (vis-a-vis Today's English Version). Chapter 5 sets forth the 
"characteristics of a reliable translation." Here van Bruggen suggests seven 
standards of judgment which should be followed to arrive at a "good" 
translation. The final chapter, entitled "The Need for a Church Bible," 
advocates a new "authorized version" which will be suitable for public and 
private usage. The responsibility for this task, van Bruggen warns, belongs 
only to the Christian Church, and not to others. Two appendixes conclude 
the book. The first deals with "Dynamic Equivalence and Linguistics." Here 
van Bruggen argues that "the dynamic-equivalent translation theory owes its 
influence and effect to the blending of modern theological prejudices regard- 
ing the Bible with data borrowed from communication theory, cultural 
anthropology, and modern sociology — rather than to insights from linguis- 
tics" (p. 151). The second appendix is entitled "A Comparison Between the 
King James Version and Some Modern Versions." Here the author concludes 
that "the language of the KJV is antiquated and should be improved for the 
twentieth century, but as a translation it is the most reliable one in use" 
(p. 192). Of the translations considered, van Bruggen regards the Living Bible 
as the least reliable. 

A number of good things can be said about this book. In the first place, 
the English translation of the Dutch reads smoothly and felicitously. Unfor- 
tunately, the same cannot be said for van Bruggen's earlier book, The 
Ancient Text of the New Testament (Winnepeg: Premier, 1976). Strangely, 
the translator for the two books is the same, but in The Future of the Bible 
there was apparently editorial help from the publishers. The result is a very 
readable translation. 

Second, many of van Bruggen's criticisms of the dynamic equivalent 
method are well taken. Theological conservatives probably have not sub- 
jected this approach to the sort of searching criticism which should have 
preceded its wholesale acceptance. Van Bruggen may be a little on the strong 
side when he calls the method "a disastrously unsound theory of translation" 
(p. 84) which "rests on a misunderstanding of God, man, and the world" 
(p. 96), a theory inadequate "for those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant 
word of God" (p. 96). And 1 think that van Bruggen's summary of his reasons 
for rejecting the theory of dynamic equivalence is a case of over-statement. Of 
dynamic equivalence he says: 

1. It rejects the orthodox doctrine of the unity of the unchanged divine and 
human natures of Christ by making His words subject to all the limitations of 
the first century. 


2. It denies that the Bible reveals absolute truth that transcends the time in which 
it was written. God's revelation aims to restore communication between God 
and man but cannot itself be described as part of a communication event. 

3. It confuses the people present and the people addressed and thus limits the 
horizon of God's speaking in the Bible to the centuries of the past. 

4. It fails to account for the creation of man in God's image, the unity of the 
human race in Adam, and thus its unity in guilt and punishment (p. 84). 

But there are certainly problems in the restructuring of the biblical text to the 
degree that dynamic equivalence sometimes advocates. Such restructuring 
results in an unnecessary "Anglicizing" of the Bible, van Bruggen feels. His 
criticisms in this regard deserve a wide reading by would-be translators, 
especially those who accept the Bible as God's infallible Word. 

Third, van Bruggen's insight into the new role which the Bible societies 
have assumed is, I believe, worthy of consideration. The shift from distribu- 
tion to translation as a primary interest of the societies, van Bruggen feels, 
was made possible only by the doctrinal defection which has occurred in the 
modern church (p. 58). Van Bruggen sees doctrinal weakness in the work of 
the societies. He foresees a time when conservatives will be unable to use the 
translations of the societies (p. 66). These caveats deserve some theological 
soul-searching, especially on the part of the Bible societies themselves. 

Fourth, I find somewhat helpful many of van Bruggen's criteria for 
evaluating translations. For example, he thinks that a translation should be 
as "faithful to the form" of the original as is reasonably possible. Here van 
Bruggen is not advocating a "bound to the language" approach, nor is he in 
favor of a stilted Hebrew-English idiom. He is willing to admit that some 
variation in the form is necessary in translation. But unnecessary restructur- 
ing is to be avoided. I would agree that unnecessary departure from the form, 
even though in the avowed interests of "readability," can at times mislead the 
reader. Before departing from the form of the original, a translator should 
accept the responsibility to demonstrate clearly that such departure is both 
necessary and advantageous. 

Further, van Bruggen advocates a "clarity" in translation that corre- 
sponds to the original. I agree. Where the original is difficult or ambiguous, 
that difficulty or ambiguity should be preserved for the reader so that he can 
be aware of the problem. It is not necessarily a good thing to have everything 
"solved" by a translator who may himself have unintentionally erred in 
exegesis or interpretation. As the Apostle Peter observed long ago (2 Pet 
3:15-16), some things in Paul's writings are difficult to understand. Are we to 
think that the modern translator of Paul should strive to attain a "smoother" 
product than Paul himself wrote? 

Van Bruggen also advocates a "completeness" to the canon of Scripture. 
This, in his view, would mean excluding the Apocrypha from English 
translations, on the one hand, and including the OT and the NT in their 
entirety, on the other hand. "Partial" Bibles are acceptable only as a 
temporary measure. 


Van Bruggen also feels that Bible translations should be made by those 
who have "spiritual insight." I agree. A translator of Scripture should be one 
who has more than linguistic expertise; in addition to that, he needs to be a 
person of faith, one who has spiritual insight into the teaching of Scripture. 
Without that quality of spirituality, there are places where a translator will 
probably be at a loss to find good equivalents for biblical terms and 

However, other of van Bruggen 's principles for evaluating translations 
are less certain. For example, his view that "translations that are made 
especially for non-Christians build a barrier between the church and evange- 
lism" is, I think, an unproven assertion (cf. pp. 139-41). More importantly, in 
terms of debatable assumptions in van Bruggen's book, is his view of the NT 
text. Under the section entitled "Loyalty to the Text" (pp. 120-32), he advo- 
cates a return to the Majority Greek Text, as opposed to the eclectic text 
generally adopted by the Bible societies for translations of the NT. Van 
Bruggen maintains that the mood of uncertainty which prevails over English 
translations today is the result of not taking the Majority Text into account 
(p. 24). He feels that "fidelity to the New Testament text has been abandoned 
since the publication of the Revised Version in 1881" (p. 132). Rejection of 
the Majority Text leads to textual mutilation (cf. p. 179). It should be pointed 
out that van Bruggen's position is for the Greek Majority Text (and not 
necessarily the TR as such). He will not defend inferior readings found in the 
KJV but not in its Greek manuscript base (such as Acts 9:5b-6a and 1 John 
5:7). But he does regard the textual work of the last 100 years as headed in 
the wrong direction, and he wants to see a return to the basic textual purity 
reflected in earlier versions. This view, though it is growing in popularity, is 
not likely to find widespread acceptance among contemporary NT scholars. 

Another area of concern to me is van Bruggen's tendency to evaluate 
translations on a purely theological basis, without (seemingly) giving enough 
attention to the lexicographical problems involved. A case in point is his 
criticism of RSV because it translates uovoyevtic, as "only" instead of the 
more familiar "only begotten." He says, "the translation only weakens the 
spiritual insight into the unique sonship of Christ and threatens the spiritual 
understanding of the unity of the Father and the Son" (p. 135). Van Bruggen 
asks, "Do not such changes diminish Christ's divinity to the place where He is 
only 'unique,' a description that even Arius was prepared to ascribe to Him?" 
(p. 26). But this, in my opinion, is to ask the wrong question. The crucial 
issue for the translator to face is not which of the two English translations 
reflects a preferred Christology. The question is rather, what did John 
(Jesus?) mean by the term uovoyevf|c,? In other words, it is a historical and 
linguistic question, and not only a theological one. Since uovoyevfjc, is from 
uovoc, ("only") and yivouai ("to become," "happen"), its meaning is "only 
one of a kind" or "unique." Here the RSV is right, and we should drop the 
notion of "begetting" in our English translation of this word. To use the 
translation "only begotten" as a measurement of the theological conservatism 
of a translation is rather unfortunate and, it seems to me, ill-advised. 

The technical aspects of the book are skillfully executed. I noticed only 
one or two typographical errors in the book. An unfortunate factual error, 


however, occurs on p. 18, where 1963 is given as the completion date of the 
entire New American Standard Bible. Actually, the NASB Gospel of John 
was published in 1960, the Four Gospels in 1962, the entire NT in 1963, and 
the whole Bible (OT and NT) in 1971. 

But anyone concerned over the future of the translated Bible should read 
this book. It is clearly written, concisely presented, and offers many fresh 
insights. If we cannot agree with the thesis in every detail, we can nonetheless 
hope that it will lead to renewed discussion and evaluation of the course 
which Bible translation work is pursuing at the present time. 

Dr. Richard A. Taylor 
Capital Bible Seminary 

Historical Theology: An Introduction, by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978. Pp. 464. $14.95. 

Geoffrey Bromiley is Professor of Church History and Historical The- 
ology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Having already made major contri- 
butions to the English speaking theological world by translating Barth's 
Church Dogmatics and the Kittel and Friedrich (eds.) Theological Dictionary 
of the New Testament, Bromiley has now added another useful tool with this 
readable survey of historical theology. 

The introduction states that the intention of the book is to write a 
combination of survey and detailed presentation (p. xxii). This is the reason 
for the exclusion of some of the Church's greatest theologians. "A first and 
self evident reflection is that the whole work might easily be written again 
with a different set of theologians or even with different works, or portions of 
works from the same theologians" (p. 451). Many will wonder how Puri- 
tanism could be discussed without including Edwards or Owen. "Who ever 
heard of a history of theology that included no Scots, Baptists, or Roman 
Catholics, only a couple of Americans (rather obscure ones at that) and fewer 
modern Anglicans than heretics?' (p. 451). That is the reason that this book 
is an "introduction." It would take a multi-volume set to discuss adequately 
historical theology from Ignatius of Antioch to Thielicke of Hamburg. Yet 
Bromiley has selected dominant thinkers during this period and offered 
perceptive evaluations of their works. One thing becomes obvious to the 
reader as the struggle to proclaim the gospel through the centuries is 
unfolded — the gospel, as it was first understood, has remained substantially 
the same. "Neither by revolution nor evolution has it been definitely changed 
into something else" (p. 452). 

The book consists of three parts: (1) Patristic Theology, (2) Medieval 
and Reformation Theology, and (3) Modern Theology. Emphasis is given to 
the first and last sections. 

The crucial chapter in the first period concerns the "Early Ecumenists" 
(chap. 4). Ignatius, Cyprian, and Augustine are distinguished as pioneers in 
the search for Church unity. Bromiley seems to favor Augustine's basis of 
unity, which is "the love of Christ in our hearts" (p. 66). Surprisingly lacking 
in this section is an adequate discussion of the Christological controversies, 
only mentioned in passing on pp. 69 and 136. 


The middle section quickly surveys Aquinas, Anselm, Calvin, Luther, 
Zwingli, Melancthon, Bullinger, and some prominent Anabaptists. Again, the 
obvious (probably because of the general familiarity to most readers) is not 
included; for example, the satisfaction theory of Anslem and Aquinas' 
analogy of being are not discussed. 

The section on the post-reformation or modern period is perhaps the 
finest contribution of this outstanding volume. The discussion of Puritanism 
and Protestant Orthodoxy is excellent. Of course, no work in historical 
theology would be complete without at least passing reference to the "father 
of historical theology," Adolph Harnack. He is included in the chapter "Two 
Liberals" along with Hermann. As one would expect from the translator of 
Barth, a lengthy survey is given to this century's most prolific (and perhaps 
greatest) writing theologian. The book closes with a summary of Thielicke 
and the evangelical faith. 

It is a work which directs the reader to primary source material and 
encourages further study. Truly, it is a welcome sight to see evangelicals 
writing historical theology. This contribution is worthwhile reading for all. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 

Essentials of Evangelical Theology. Volume One: God, Authority, and Sal- 
vation, by Donald G. Bloesch. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978. Pp. 
265. $12.95. 

Essentials of Evangelical Theology. Volume Two: Life, Ministry, and Hope, 
by Donald G. Bloesch. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979. Pp. 315. 

A popular song asks the question, "where have all the flowers gone?" A 
relevant question for evangelicals is "where have all the American theo- 
logians gone?" Where are the students of Hodge, Warfield, Shedd, Strong, 
Chafer, and Berkhof? At last, a major systematic theology by an American 
theologian. While Bloesch, professor of theology at Dubuque Theological 
Seminary, may be closer to a middle ground Neo-orthodoxy than to a 
consistent evangelicalism, his work is nevertheless a significant contribution 
to the field of systematic theology. 

Bloesch has succeeded in his attempt to provide a catholic, evangelical 
theology. The study is grounded in the authority of Scripture, while re- 
maining open to the observations of the universal church, past and present. 
Bloesch writes from the perspective within the Reformed tradition of the 
Church, while seeking the valid contributions of Roman Catholicism and of 
Neo-orthodoxy, especially Karl Barth. As the title of the volumes would 
suggest, Bloesch has attempted to expound the essentials of evangelical 
theology (some conservatives may question whether or not he has succeeded, 
believing that there may be more "essentials" than those found in Bloesch, cf. 
pp. x, xi). 


The reader will find the opening chapters to be quite informative, as the 
author states his purpose in writing his theology, in addition to a brief history 
of evangelicalism that attempts to define the rather vague term "evangelical." 

His treatment of the attributes of God under the title, "The Sovereignty 
of God," is very helpful and illuminating. Especially beneficial are the 
discussions of God's holy love and the erosion of the biblical view of God. 
His understanding of omniscience and foreordination is questionable (p. 29). 

The discussion of the "Primacy of Scripture" (pp. 5 Iff) is a mixture of 
Evangelical tradition, with a Neo-orthodox flavor. The results are very 
similar to G. C. Berkouwer (p. 67), in stressing the function of Scripture. He 
asserts inerrancy, but says that he cannot affirm that "an unbiased investi- 
gation will disclose that the Bible does not err" (p. 68). Yet, at the same time, 
he maintains that "only an investigation made by faith and to faith will 
disclose that the Scriptures are indeed the infallible and inerrant Word" 
(p. 68). Such paradoxical statements characterize his discussion in many areas. 
His emphasis upon the dual nature of the divine-human authorship is quite 

Bloesch maintains the depravity of man, generally following the Re- 
formed tradition, yet adding some of the better insights of Emil Brunner. The 
treatment of the historicity of the fall of Adam is quite problematic. Included 
in this chapter is a section on modern optimism in which Bloesch demon- 
strates the faulty thinking of many such as Ritschl, Niebuhr, and Rauschen- 
bush, not to mention those within the modern evangelical camp. This modern 
optimism in evangelicalism may be traced to an undercurrent of semi- 
pelagianism, especially in revivalistic circles. 

The chapters concerning the "Deity of Christ" and the "Substitutionary 
Atonement" are excellent. Bloesch's understanding of the incarnation of the 
Son of God is most enlightening. The survey of various viewpoints on the 
atonement will be very beneficial to the young theologian. The treatment of 
propitiation is that which would be expected following the previous treatment 
of God's holy love. He concludes that the atonement is both objective 
(following particular redemptionists) and subjective (following advocates of a 
universal atonement). The conclusion is an implied, but nonetheless rejected, 
universalism similar to Karl Barth. 

Volume one concludes with a survey of the themes of grace and faith. 
The fine historical survey found in each chapter is very beneficial. The 
catholic scope of the treatise certainly broadens one's appreciation for 
historical theology. All viewpoints — including Reformed, Lutheran, Wes- 
leyan, Neo-orthodox, Existential, Secular, Liberationist, and Liberal — are 
generally expressed. 

Volume two continues in similar paradoxical style. It also traces the 
historical thought of the Church on such themes as the "New Birth," 
"Holiness," "The Cruciality of Preaching," "The Priesthood of Believers," 
"Two Kingdoms," "The Church's Spiritual Mission," "The Personal Return 
Of Christ," and "Heaven and Hell." 

The second volume contains a recapitulation and clarification of some 
areas that were previously discussed in volume one, such as evangelical 


distinctives, revelation, and biblical authority. He once again advocates a 
.acramental or functional approach to the question of biblical authority. 
Bloesch is very much dependent upon Karl Barth for much of his thinking in 
this area. 

The return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal state 
are regarded as essential matters, but he shuns the idea of a chronology of the 
last times. He opts to hold in tension both realized eschatology and futuristic 
viewpoints, taking aspects from all three of the major American millennial 
options. This does not mean that he forsakes the contributions of Dodd, 
Cullmann, and other Europeans. 

A near universalism is again asserted in his treatment of heaven and hell. 
While maintaining the universal salvific will of God, he still believes in the 
sovereignty of grace and the reality of condemnation. Some will find the 
tensions in Bloesch's conclusions less than comforting. Others will discover a 
breath of fresh air. For those unaccustomed to reading modern theology, 
some sections in both volumes will appear confusing; yet, these observations 
should in no way detract from their value. The reader will certainly be 
amazed at the author's command of the literature in the field. It is a scholarly 
work which is mandatory reading for all interested students of systematic 
theology. May this work be only the beginning of a very real revival and 
reformation in systematic theology in American evangelicalism. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 

Perspectives on Pentecost, by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1979. Pp. 127. $3.95. Paper. 

In Chapter One, Gaffin, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, 
asserts that the spirit of Pentecost was not poured out on the Church to be a 
source of disunity and that experience itself should not be viewed as a source 
of Christian doctrine (p. 10). He also explains that since his intended 
audience includes all serious students of the Word, not merely professional 
theologians, he has chosen to omit any documentation or citation of second- 
ary sources. The wisdom of this approach may be questioned, since the reader 
may often wonder whether a position has been assumed in ignorance of 
quality argumentation to the contrary or in spite of such argumentation. 

Chapter Two rightly argues that the Gift of the Spirit is the Gift of 
Christ which is the Spirit. From an exegetical standpoint, several objections 
or questions may be raised: (1) He assumes that the Pentecostal miracles 
involved "the entire Jerusalem congregation" of 120 (pp. 22, 39) in spite of 
the undiscussed textual indications that only the twelve apostles were in- 
volved; (2) He places Spirit baptism "at the time of" incorporation into the 
one body (p. 29), but never distinguishes this from the act of incorporation 
into the body, nor does he carefully distinguish it from "filling" — with which 
it is at least sometimes rightly identified (p. 13, cf Acts 2:4); (3) He invalidly 
argues that the aorist tense in the phrase "were made to drink" (1 Cor 12:13b) 
cannot refer to a "recurring observance" in spite of the facts (a) that the aorist 


does not prove his point and (b) the works involving the Spirit are regularly 
repeated, at least with different individuals; (4) He includes a typically 
"Reformed" over-reaction to labeling any Christians as "carnal," in spite of 
the fact that evangelicals generally agree with him that those so labeled are 
not to be considered as in a "normal" category, but as exhibiting behavior 
that is really incompatible with their true identity. 

Chapter Three is a helpful discussion of some basic perspectives on the 
gifts of the Spirit. Gaffin defines a spiritual gift as "any capacity of the 
believer, including aptitudes present before conversion, brought under the 
controlling power of God's grace and functioning in his service" (p. 48). He 
adds that, biblically speaking, "charismatic" and "Christian" are synonymous, 
and that the Spirit is the "Spirit of both ardor and order" (pp. 48, 51). 

Chapter Four defines both the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues as 
revelatory. Due to the difficulties of the subject, and Gaffin's concern with 
the Word, this reviewer can empathize with his exegetical struggles, though 
remaining unconvinced and unimpressed by his argumentation. It would take 
a chapter of equal length to interact adequately with Gaffin's arguments. One 
example of the problems faced by his approach is that he is forced to take 
even the reference to "my spirit" (1 Cor 14:14) as a reference to the Holy 
Spirit. Also, he does not adequately deal with Paul's statement that "he that 
speaks in a tongue is not speaking to men but to God, for no man 
understands him . . ." (1 Cor 14:2). It seems preferable to view both gifts as 
essentially ecstatic and not necessarily revelatory. Tongues in particular were 
to serve as a sign and not as a means of revelation. Also, the facts that some 
in the early church were tempted to "despise" prophecies (1 Thess 5:19-22) 
and that the whole church was to "judge" the prophetic utterances (1 Cor 
14:29) argue against the equation with revelation. 

Chapter Five deals with the cessation of the gifts. The discussion here 
with regard to the identity of "prophets" in Eph 2:20 is instructive. Gaffin 
convincingly argues that the term is not merely a second designation for the 
apostles — the apostles who were also prophets — and likewise he convincingly 
argues that the term does not designate the OT prophets in contrast to the 
NT apostles and prophets. He concludes that the verse identifies the NT 
prophets as a second classification, along with the apostles, which together 
with the apostles and Christ Jesus form the foundation of the church. The 
only possibility which he does not discuss is that the term could designate 
"prophets" in the generic sense, whether OT or NT, as those who are 
foundational for the church (the following mention in 3:5 would be more 
specific, on this supposition). 

The chapter includes a helpful argument to the effect that, in contrast to 
the claims in some circles, there is no secondary type of prophetic gift in 
exercise today which differs from that in the apostolic age in that if is 
personal and particular rather than normative (pp. 96-99). 

The very "complicated understanding" (p. 108) of 1 Cor 14:20-25 is quite 
problematic in this reviewer's opinion. One complicating factor, not discussed 
here, is Gaffin's understanding of tongues as consisting of real languages. If 
so, they were clearly miraculous, and is one to assume that God was doing 


what he was instructing the Corinthians to stop doing? The conclusion that 
tongues were an indication that the kingdom had been taken away from 
unbelieving Jews and given to believers of this age is quite tenuous, to say the 

The section discussing 1 Cor 13:8-13 (pp. 109-12) is helpful and instruc- 
tive. It properly identifies "that which is perfect" as applying to the glorified 
state in contrast to the present temporal state of affairs and concludes that 
Paul was not writing for the purpose of telling how long these temporal gifts 
would be in existence. 

The last chapter (Six) is essentially an appeal for Christian attitudes and 
an assertion that non-charismatic convictions do not indicate that one is 
"quenching the Spirit" or place one in the position of being "against the Holy 
Spirit" (p. 120). 

Evaluation: this is an interesting and helpful study. Like this reviewer, 
readers of the Grace Theological Journal will undoubtedly disagree with 
Gaffin in several particulars. But the book is well-written, biblical (in that it 
honestly attempts to base conclusions only on the biblical data), Christ- 
honoring, and irenic. 

Charles R. Smith 

A Preface to Paul, by Morna Hooker. New York: Oxford, 1980. Pp. 95. 
$3.95. Paper. (Previously published as Pauline Pieces. London: Epworth, 

This brief work by a Cambridge professor is intended only as an 
introduction to Paul. Its simple format includes a popular style of writing 
with little documentation. The purpose and presuppositions of the book are 
disclosed by the publisher's statement on the back cover: "This introduction 
to the Church's first great theologian does not attempt to produce a sys- 
tematic account of his theology. Indeed, it begins from the recognition that 
such an attempt is impossible. ... All too often, readers of Paul make the 
mistake of treating the Pauline material as a corpus of teaching, compre- 
hensive in its range and timeless in its relevance. . . . We distort Paul's 
meaning when we treat him in this way, but ... by trying to put ourselves 
imaginatively into his situation we can begin to understand how the Apostle's 
thought can still be relevant to us today." 

Summarizing, the first chapter, "Through a Glass, Darkly," lists several 
reasons for the difficulties in Pauline studies. Hooker admits that this is a 
negative chapter (pp. 7-8). The second chapter, "Christ our Righteousness" is 
much more positive in its tone and in its helpful summary of Paul's gospel. 
"As in Adam, so in Christ," the third chapter, continues the theme of the 
second. Later I will return to a crucial point in this chapter for a more 
lengthy discussion. Christology is the topic for chapter four, "God was in 
Christ." Chapter five, "Have This Mind in You," explores the depths of 
Paul's "in Christ" emphasis. Finally, "Dying, and Behold We Live," chapter 
six, attempts to show the eschatological relevance of Paul for today. 


On a positive note, Hooker makes many points which evangelicals 
should note in doing hermeneutics. The emphasis of the first chapter on the 
necessity of putting oneself back into the first century's history, culture, and 
theology is welcome as it underscores the need for historical-grammatical 
exegesis. Another helpful insight is Hooker's understanding of the principle 
of justification by faith. This is shown by her abrupt statement, "Was Paul 
right? If he was, then the average Englishman's [and I would add, "Ameri- 
can's"] understanding of Christianity is wrong. For most people still believe 
in salvation by works ... (p. 27)." In a different context the ecumenical 
movement is chided (pp. 71-72) for misunderstanding Paul's "one body" 
theme, which Hooker views as emphasizing diversity, not unity. Finally, the 
excellent statement "For Paul, ethics is always rooted in theology" (p. 77) 
needs to be pondered by all evangelicals, especially those prone to experience- 
centered thinking. 

Despite these positive contributions, many problems also emerge. Hooker 
obviously does not hold to biblical inerrancy. It is claimed that Paul may be 
inconsistent with himself (p. 16), that he was unfair to Judaism (p. 37), that 
he probably did not write Ephesians (p. 64, n. 5; pp. 84-85) or Titus 
(p. 84, n. 1), and that he was perhaps not always successful in articulating 
OT/NT tensions (p. 76). These problems of course indicate that for Hooker 
the Bible may be true but its truth is subject to human investigation. Thus, 
human autonomy rather than biblical authority is the final point of reference 
in theological method. 

This issue of ultimate authority is nowhere more noticeable than in the 
discussion of Adam and Christ which occurs in chapter three (pp. 49-51). 
Hooker realizes the dilemma of demythologizing Adam and the biblical 
account of creation. Must she likewise demythologize Paul's language about 
Christ? She seems unwilling to do so, though she answers the question with a 
qualified "yes." But this is only part of the problem. What about eschatology? 
Demythologizing the biblical record of an originally perfect created world, 
ruined by the Fall, redeemed by the cross, and restored at the second coming 
puts Hooker between the proverbial rock and hard place. She asks, "if we 
demythologize each end of Paul's understanding of salvation history, the Fall 
and Restoration — what happens to the turning-point in the middle, which is 
focused on the figure of Christ (pp. 50-51)?" When the same problem surfaces 
later (pp. 88ff.), she seems to downplay the future restoration in favor of an 
almost exclusively "realized" eschatology. Thus Hooker struggles to perform 
the impossible: she wants to retain the value of the cross while denying the 
Fall which made it necessary and the future which will reveal it in all its 

The author of this book is to be commended for her openness, frankness, 
and simple style of writing. Careful readers may profit a great deal from the 
book. It vividly illustrates the dilemma of Neo-orthodox theology: it repu- 
diates the biblical view of history while attempting to retain biblical termi- 
nology and meaning. Is it possible to retain the cross after jettisoning the 
event which necessitated it and the event which will gloriously vindicate it? 


Paul's answer to this question would have been the characteristic ur) yevoixo. 
However, those who hold a differing world-life view answer otherwise. In 
their view, Paul can be made relevant only by demythologizing. 

David L. Turner 


ADAMS, JAY E. Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible. 
Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980. Pp. 99. $3.50. 

ALLEN, RONALD BARCLAY. Praise! A Matter of Life and Breath. 
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980. Pp. 246. $5.95. Paper. 

ARNETT, RONALD C. Dwell in Peace. Elgin, IL: Brethren, 1980. Pp. 156. 
$5.95. Paper. 

BAAR, MARIUS. The Unholy War. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980. Pp. 
216. $4.95. Paper. 

BATTLES, FORD LEWIS. Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian 
Religion of John Calvin. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 421. $10.95. 

BUSHNELL, HORACE. Christian Nurture. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. 
Pp. 407. $7.95. Paper. 

CARROLL, ROBERT P. When Prophecy Failed. New York: Seabury, 1979. 
Pp. 250. $12.95. 

COLEMAN, RICHARD J. Issues of Theological Conflict. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 280. $12.95. 

COOK, W. ROBERT. The Theology of John. Chicago: Moody, 1979. 
Pp. 284. $8.95. 

DAVIS, JOHN JEFFERSON, ed. The Necessity of Systematic Theology. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978. Pp. 190. $6.95. Paper. 

ERICKSON, MILLARD J. 77k? New Life Readings in Christian Theology. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979. N.P. 

ERICSON, EDWARD E. Solzhenitsyn: The Moral Vision. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 239. $12.95. 

FEINBERG, CHARLES L. Israel at the Center of History and Revelation. 
Portland: Multnomah, 1980. Pp. 240. N.P. Paper. 

FOH, SUSAN T. Women and the Word of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1980. Pp. 270. $6.95. Paper. 


GAFFIN, RICHARD B., JR. Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation. 
Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980. Pp. 559. $17.50. 

GAFFIN, RICHARD B. The Centrality of the Resurrection: A Study in 
Paul's Soteriology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978. Pp. 155. $4.95. Paper. 

HABERMAS, GARY R. The Resurrection of Jesus: An Apologetic. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 187. $5.95. Paper. 

HARRISON, R. K. Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers 
Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1980. Pp. 252. $8.95. 

HELMAN, PATRICIA KENNEDY. At Home In The World. Elgin, IL: 
Brethren, 1980. Pp. 120. $4.95. Paper. 

HENRY, CARL F. H. Aspects of Christian Social Ethics. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1980. Pp. 190. $5.95. Paper. 

HESSELGRAVE, DAVID J. Planting Churches Cross- Culturally: A Guide 
for Home and Foreign Missions. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 462. 
$12.95. Paper. 

HUMMEL, HORACE D. The Word Becoming Flesh. St. Louis: Concordia, 
1979. Pp. 679. $18.95. 

KEE, HOWARD CLARK. Christian Origins in Sociological Perspective. 
Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980. Pp. 204. $8.95. Paper. 

Your Child. Nashville, 1980. Pp. 112. $4.95. Paper. 

KLINE, MEREDITH G. Images of the Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. 
Pp. 142. $6.95. Paper. 

KROLL, WOODROW MICHAEL. Prescription for Preaching. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 278. $9.95. 

KUYPER, ABRAHAM. Principles of Sacred Theology. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1980. Pp. 683. $12.95. Paper. 

LIND, MILLARD C. Yahweh Is a Warrior. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1980. 
Pp. 232. $11.55. Paper. 

LOVELACE, RICHARD F. The American Pietism of Cotton Mather. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 350. $9.95. Paper. 

MASSEY, KUNDAN L. The Tide of the Supernatural: a Call to Love for 
the Muslim World. San Bernardino: Here's Life, 1980. Pp. 184. $4.94. 

MCGAVRAN, DONALD. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 480. $12.95. Paper. 

NOTARO, THOM. Van Til and the Use of Evidence. Phillipsburg, NJ: 
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980. Pp. 136. $3.75. Paper. 

OSTHATHIOS, GEEVARGHESE MAR. Theology of a Classless Society. 
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1979. Pp. 159. $8.95. Paper. 


OWENS, VIRGINIA STEM. The Total Image or Selling Jesus in the 
Modern Age. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 97. $4.95. Paper. 

PENTECOST, J. DWIGHT. The Sermon on the Mount. Portland: Mult- 
nomah, 1980. Pp. 224. $5.95. Paper. 

PRIEST, JAMES E. Governmental and Judicial Ethics in the Bible and 
Rabbinic Literature. New York: KTAV, 1980. Pp. 313. $17.95. 

RAWLINGS, MAURICE. Before Death Comes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 
1980. Pp. 180. $7.95. 

ROBINSON, HADDON W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and 
Delivery of Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 230. 

STONE, MICHAEL EDWARDS. Scriptures, Sects and Visions: a Profile of 
Judaism from Ezra to the Jewish Revolts. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980. 
Pp. 150. $11.95. 

STOTT, JOHN R. W. and ROBERT COOTE, eds. Down to Earth: Studies 
in Christianity and Culture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. 342. 
$7.95. Paper. 

TOUSSAINT, STANLEY D. Behold The King: A Study of Matthew. 
Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1980. Pp. 399. N.P. 

WELLS, PAUL RONALD. James Ban and the Bible. Phillipsburg, NJ: 
Presbyterian, 1980. Pp. 406. $12.00. Paper. 

WHITCOMB, JOHN C. Esther: The Triumph of God's Sovereignty. Chicago: 
Moody, 1979. Pp. 128. $2.95. 

YAMAUCHI, EDWIN. The Archaeology of New Testament Cities in Western 
Asia Minor. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. 180. $7.95. Paper. 

ZIEGLER, EDWARD K. A Tapestry of Grace. Elgin, IL: Brethren, 1980. 
Pp. 158. $5.95. Paper. 

ZIMMERLI, WALTHER. Ezekiel 1. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979. Pp. 509. 



Volume 2 No 2 Fall 1981 

Studies in Honor of James L. Boyer 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Editorial Board 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

John J. Davis 


E. William Male 


D. Wayne Knife 

Associate Editor, 
Old Testament 

Editorial Committee 
John C. Whitcomb 


Charles R. Smith 

Associate Editor, 


John A. Sproule 

Associate Editor, 

New Testament 

Production Committee 

James Eisenbraun 

Managing Editor 

Donald L. Fowler 

Book Review Editor 

Weston W. Fields 

Grace Theological Journal is published twice annually. Subscription rates are $7.50/ one 
year, $l3.00/two years, $18.00/three years in the United States; foreign rates: $8.75/one 
year, $15.50/two years, $21.50/three years, payable in U.S. funds. 

Manuscripts for consideration should be sent to Grace Theological Journal, Box 318, 
Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. All articles should be type- 
written, double-spaced, on one side of the page only, and should conform to the 
requirements of the Journal of Biblical Literature style sheet; see JBL 95 (1976) 331-46. 
One exception should be noted, namely, that GTJ prefers the use of the original scripts 
for Greek and Hebrew, in contradistinction to JBL. 

Inquiries concerning subscriptions should be addressed to Grace Theological Journal, 
Box 373, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590. 

ISSN 0I98-666X Copyright © 1981 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved 



Volume 2 No 2 Fall 1981 

Studies in Honor of James L. Boyer 

A Festschrift for Dr. James L. Boyer 163-166 


James L. Boyer: A Biographical Sketch 167-170 


The Glory of the Christian Ministry: An Analysis 
of 2 Corinthians 2:14-4:18 171-189 


The Translation of Biblical Live and Dead Metaphors and 

Similes and Other Idioms 191-204 


Errant Aorist Interpreters 205-226 


Transformed into His Image: A Christian Papyrus . . 227-237 


Romans 7:14-25: Pauline Tension in the 
Christian Life 239-257 


Daniel's Great Seventy-Week's Prophecy: 
An Exegetical Insight 259-263 


The Focus of Baptism in the New Testament 265-301 


Difficulties of New Testament Genealogies 303-326 


napaTieadvTac, in Hebrews 6:6 327-332 


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Review Article . . 333-339 


Book Reviews 340-352 


Richard E. Averbeck 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

David S. Dockery 

7805 Whirlwind, Ft. Worth, TX 76133 

Weston W. Fields 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Herman A. Hoyt 

1201 Presidential Drive, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

R. Larry Overstreet 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

D. Brent Sandy 

Grace College, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Charles R. Smith 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John A. Sproule 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

John C. Whitcomb 

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

A Festschrift for Dr. James L. Boyer 

Professor Emeritus 

Grace Theological Seminary 

This issue of the Grace Theological Journal is dedicated to Dr. 
James L. Boyer in honor of his seventieth birthday on July 3, 
1981. During the course of its preparation it was also discovered that 
the same date marked the fiftieth wedding anniversary for him and 
his wife Velma, and that this fall will be the final semester of his 
distinguished teaching career. The conjunction of these events has 
made this festschrift in his honor unusually appropriate. 

Dr. Boyer's positive influence with his students during his thirty 
years of teaching is evidenced by the fact that it was a student group 
which first suggested the idea of a festschrift in his honor. In 1979, 
Mr. David Dockery (M. Div., '79), as a student representative, 
presented the plan to me in my office. My subsequent recommenda- 
tion to the seminary administration was wholeheartedly endorsed. 
With the inauguration of the Grace Theological Journal in 1980, it 
was decided that this organ would provide the best possible vehicle 
for a wide distribution among those who have been most influenced 
by Dr. Boyer's life and ministry. Dr. Herman Hoyt, Professor 
Emeritus and long-time President of Grace, as well as a colleague and 
close friend for many years, was asked to write a brief account of 
Dr. Boyer's life. Dr. John Sproule, Dr. Boyer's successor as Chair- 
man of the Department of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, 
was appointed as coordinator of the project and solicited articles 
from Dr. Boyer's colleagues and former students. 

Dr. Boyer's influence as a professor at Grace Theological Semi- 
nary for thirty years may best be assessed by noting a few statistics: 
(1) Approximately one thousand of his former students are involved 
in pastoral ministries, with more that three hundred of these serving 
within the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches; (2) Approxi- 
mately two hundred of his students are missionaries whose ministries 
span the globe, with about seventy-five of these serving with the 
Foreign Missionary Society of the Brethren Church; (3) More than 
two hundred of his students are employed as professors or adminis- 
trators in more than one hundred Christian colleges and seminaries. 



In addition to his teaching and preaching ministries, Dr. Boyer 
has had an effective writing ministry which has extended his influence 
far beyond his personal contacts. The following list of publications is 
ample demonstration of this fact. 

1951 The Glory of His Intercessory Work. Brethren Mis- 
sionary Herald (August 25) p. 598. 

1952a God Has Spoken, Part I. Brethren Missionary Herald 
(October 11) p. 644. 

1952b God Has Spoken, Part II. Brethren Missionary Herald 
(October 18) p. 667. 

1953 Inconsistencies in the RSV New Testament. Brethren 
Missionary Herald (February 28) p. 142. 

1954a Trouble? Problems? Confusion? Brethren Missionary 
Herald (August 28) p. 563. 

1954b The Errors of Mormonism. Brethren Missionary Her- 
ald (December 4) p. 777. 

1956 Are There Contentions? Brethren Missionary Herald 
(February 25) p. 127. 

1958 The Spirit of Modern Israel. Brethren Missionary 
Herald (October 25) p. 677. 

1960a The Office of the Prophet in New Testament Times 
Grace Journal 1 (Spring) 13-20. 

1960b Love Everybody — Except! Brethren Missionary Her- 
ald (May 28) p. 341. 

1962a Chart of the Period Between the Testaments. Winona 
Lake: BMH Books. 

1962b New Testament Chronological Chart. Winona Lake: 
BMH Books. 

1962c Semantics in Biblical Interpretation. Grace Journal 3 
(Spring) 25-34. 

1962d The Incarnate Son of God. Brethren Missionary Her- 
ald (December 22) p. 783. 

1963 The Holy Land and Holy Places. Brethren Missionary 
Herald (October 19) p. 508. 

1967 Is Worldliness Changing? Brethren Missionary Herald 

(March 25) p. 30. 

1968 Is the United States in Prophecy? Brethren Missionary 

Herald (November 16) pp. 25-27. 

1971 For a World Like Ours: Studies in First Corinthians. 

Grand Rapids: Baker. 153 pp. 

1972 Manual of Greek Forms. Winona Lake: BMH Books. 

65 pp. 

1973 Prophecy: Things to Come. Winona Lake: BMH 

Books. 130 pp. 

smith: a festschrift for dr. james l. boyer 165 

1976a Chronology of the Crucifixion and the Last Week. 
Winona Lake: BMH Books. 

1976b Faith is ... . Grace Theological Seminary Spire (Fall) 

1979a A Grammatical Directory to the Greek New Testa- 
ment (with Paul A. Miller). Bloomington, Ind.: 
Indiana University. 2 vols. 

1979b At What Hour Was Jesus Crucified? Grace Theologi- 
cal Seminary Spire (Summer) 9-10. 

1980a Love One Another. Grace Theological Seminary Spire 
(Winter) 11. 

1980b Project Gramcord: A Report. Grace Theological Jour- 
nal 1 (Spring) 97-99. 

1981 First Class Conditions: What Do They Mean? Grace 
Theological Journal 2 (Spring) 75-114. 

In addition, Dr. Boyer will have an article titled "Second Class 
Conditions: What Do They Mean?" in the next issue of this Journal. 

Throughout the years of his ministry Dr. Boyer has been known 
for his high level of scholarship and for his exemplification of 
Christian graces. If one were to challenge his students and colleagues 
to characterize him in one word, there is little doubt what that word 
would be — humble. All who know him will agree that here is a man 
whom God has graced with those qualities of character to which all 
Christians should aspire. In him the spiritual graces of "longsuffering, 
gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance" have 
found fruition in extraordinary fulness. 

It has been my personal privilege to be a close associate and 
confidant of Dr. Boyer for the past twelve years. For six of these 
years, my office was right down the hall from his and we enjoyed a 
great camaraderie in studying together and in challenging each other's 
thinking with regard to a wide variety of exegetical and theological 
issues. On a number of occasions in our offices we also shared in 
private times of prayer with regard to personal and family needs, and 
I was always grateful for his compassion and concern. His quiet 
demeanor and retiring nature have never fully revealed, especially to 
those who have only casual associations, how much he enjoys such 
opportunities for fellowship. Though he is anything but self-assertive, 
he is certainly not an introvert! I well remember travelling with him 
on one occasion, along with two other faculty members, when he so 
thoroughly enjoyed the theological discussion that he repeatedly 
stated that he wished that the trip did not have to come to an end. 
When he says he would love to spend time talking with you, he 
means it! But be forewarned, the favored topics will include tenses, 


voices, moods, participles, conditional sentences, and other syn- 
tactical and exegetical considerations! 

For a number of years Dr. Boyer has been plagued with eye 
problems. Though pain has been involved, this has not prevented him 
from spending many hours in poring over the Greek text of the NT in 
fully identifying all its forms for the "Gramcord" (Grammatical 
Concordance of the Greek New Testament) computer project. My 
personal contribution to this festschrift, the article titled "Errant 
Aorist Interpreters," was greatly aided by computer printouts of all 
forms of various aorist constructions — an aid that would not have 
been available apart from Dr. Boyer's tireless labors. 

As this copy is being sent to press, Dr. Boyer is preparing to 
enter the hospital for surgery on his left eye. Previous surgery on the 
right eye has been beneficial. I know that he and his dear wife, 
Velma, would appreciate your prayers regarding the matter of his 

After the completion of this final semester of his teaching 
ministry at Grace, Dr. and Mrs. Boyer, as they have done for several 
years now, will be going to Florida for the winter. But they will be 
back in the spring and will continue to call Winona Lake home. Even 
though he will no longer be teaching at Grace, Dr. Boyer will not be 
inactive. He will be working on a number of projects — including a 
continuation of his study on conditional sentences and a study on 
participles. He also looks forward to occasionally preaching whenever 

I am confident that the entire Grace family, the editorial staff of 
the Journal, and all of his present and former students would like to 
join me in expressing appreciation to Dr. Boyer for his dedicated 
scholarship and his godly example, and in praying for God's richest 
blessings on all his endeavors. We will miss him at Grace. 

Charles R. Smith 


Herman A. Hoyt 

I met him for the first time more than fifty years ago. Late in May of 
1928 my family and I had moved to Ashland, Ohio, where I 
expected to attend Ashland College in preparation for the ministry. 
My father dispatched me to buy bread for the family one evening at 
the Kroger Grocery Store which was located at the foot of Claremont 
Avenue in the very center of town. Those were the days when clerks 
assembled all the items of purchase for the customer. 

As I recall, there was just one clerk in the store at the time, a 
young man whom I judged to be about 17 or 18. He was slight of 
stature but with an attractive countenance, and with dark eyes almost 
clamoring for business. He waited on me with promptness and I was 
on my way. Little did I dream at the time that within a few short 
months he would be a classmate of mine, enrolled as a freshman at 
Ashland College. Nor did I ever dream that our paths were to join 
and continue in a ministry for the Lord through more than five 
decades of time. In September of 1928 I learned to know him as 
James L. Boyer, a resident of Ashland County from birth and a lad 
who had grown up on a farm just south of town. 

He was born on July 3, 1911. At the age of 10 he accepted Christ 
as his Savior in a revival service held at the United Brethren Church 
in the city of Ashland. He attended the local schools and graduated 
from Ashland High School in June of 1928. 

In the normal course of events in those opening weeks at 
Ashland College we were thrown into some of the typical relation- 
ships that students experience. On one of those occasions I invited 
him to join me in a Gospel Team service which was held weekly on 
the campus of the College. The gospel team was made up of young 
men who were interested in the ministry or in Christian testimony, 
and this incident provided the occasion for a change in James Boyer's 
outlook and ambitions. Up to that time he aspired to a lifetime of 
pursuit in natural science, and more particularly, in the field of 
chemistry. From that point on the Lord led him gradually in the 
direction of Christian service. 


It was not until the sophomore year that men in pursuit of the 
ministry were allowed to matriculate in the study of Greek. Both of 
us signed up for Beginning Greek, which turned out to be Classical 
Greek. We both majored in this area throughout the remainder of our 
college career, graduating in June of 1932. 

An event in the spring of 1930 gave further direction to the life of 
James Boyer. The Board of Trustees of Ashland College decided to 
open a graduate school of theology in the fall of that year, with 
Dr. Alva J. McClain serving as its first dean. In the good providence 
of God this new school was to shape his theological thinking and 
direct him toward a biblically-sound ministry, and later a teaching 
ministry in Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. 

On July 3, 1931, James Boyer took to himself a wife, Velma M. 
Leedy. To this union were born three children, all of whom live in 
Northern Indiana: Leo of Winona Lake, Janet of Kokomo, and 
Donald of Warsaw. Eight grandchildren call James and Velma 
"grandpa" and "grandma." 

In addition to his schooling in the local schools of Ashland 
County and City, he has attended five schools of higher education. 
He attended Ashland College during the years of 1928-1932, gradu- 
ating with the A.B. degree in 1932. From 1932-1934 he attended 
Ashland Theological Seminary, but transferred to Bonebrake Theo- 
logical Seminary, located in Dayton, Ohio, for his final year, gradu- 
ating from that school with the B.D. degree in 1935. He felt it proper 
to finish his theological training in the school of his own denomi- 
nation. While serving a pastorate in Mansfield, Ohio, he attended 
Oberlin School of Theology during the years of 1937-1940, and 
graduated with the S.T.M. degree in 1940. After ten years in the 
pastorate, he decided to move to Winona Lake, Indiana, and pursue 
a course of study leading to the Doctor of Theology degree at Grace 
Theological Seminary. This he embarked upon in the fall of 1950 and 
finished in 1952, writing a dissertation entitled "A Manual of Greek 

His educational experiences are also embellished with other 
accomplishments. In the summer of 1958 he participated in the 
Asbury Theological Seminary Bible Lands Tour. During the same 
summer it was his privilege to benefit from the New York University 
Workshop in Israel. Then in the spring and summer of 1966 he served 
as the Annual Director of The Near East School of Archeological 
Studies in Jerusalem. 

Dr. Boyer preached his first sermon in January, 1930, and from 
that day his preaching ministry covers a period of more than 50 years. 
Sixteen years as full-time pastor were given to the United Brethren 
Church. In 1934-1935 he served the United Brethren Church in 


Verona, Ohio; from 1935-1946 he was full-time pastor of the United 
Brethren Church in Mansfield, Ohio; then from 1946-1950 he pas- 
tored the United Brethren Church in Warren, Ohio. 

As interim pastor he has served five congregations. He was 
student pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Hayesville, 
Ohio, from 1932-1933. Upon two different occasions he filled the 
pulpit of the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church: from July, 1956, 
to April, 1957; and January, 1962, to October, 1962. From July, 1957 
to June, 1958 he pastored the Brethren Church in Sidney, Indiana; 
and the Kokomo Brethren Church from January, 1964 to June, 1964. 
Then, more recently, while spending the winter in Florida, he served 
the Evangelical Free Church of Englewood, Florida, from January to 
May, the spring of both 1980 and 1981. 

Dr. Boyer has distinguished himself as a scholar. While in 
College he was elected to the Scribes Honorary Literary Society. His 
technical skills led to his appointment as Financial Secretary of Grace 
Schools, a position he held for a number of years even after begin- 
ning his teaching career. For 30 years he has served as professor of 
Greek and New Testament in Grace College and Grace Theological 
Seminary. Even though he has retired as a full-time professor, he has 
been retained as a part-time instructor, giving the fall semester each 
year to this ministry. 

Among his literary productions, in addition to his unpublished 
dissertation, "A Manual of Greek Forms," he has also published a 
New Testament Chronological Chart, a chart of The Period Between 
the Testaments, and a chart of The Chronology of the Crucifixion of 
the Last Week, which are widely used in college and seminary 
classrooms. He has written the book, Prophecy: Things to Come, and 
an exposition of First Corinthians entitled For a World Like Ours. In 
recent years much of his time has been devoted to assisting in the 
creation of Project Gramcord, a computer-based research tool for the 
grammatical analysis of the Greek New Testament. The fruits of his 
investigations using this tool have begun to appear in a series of 

Besides his election to the Scribes Honorary Literary Society 
while in college, other honors have been conferred upon him. He was 
the first recipient of the Alva J. McClain Award for Excellence in 
Teaching at Grace College in 1967. Later he was elected as Grace 
Theological Seminary's 1977 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. In 
1973 his book Prophecy: Things to Come was selected as the book of 
the year by the Brethren Missionary Herald Company. 

His skills are not confined to the classroom. Upon moving to 
Winona Lake, he bought and remodeled a home and has since built 
two homes, serving as his own architect, contractor, and builder. In 


addition, he has aided his children in constructing and remodeling 
their homes. He is a superb craftsman. 

In recent years it has appeared that he might be losing his 
eyesight. But upon further investigation, it was discovered that cata- 
racts were developing. These have been removed and he is now able 
to use his eyes in the area where his deepest love lies: the study of 
Scriptures. Though he is now in the region of three score years and 
ten, the Lord willing, his ministry will continue, and we may yet 
expect to see other outstanding productions from his hand. I thank 
God for this choice servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. 



Homer A. Kent, jr. 

Some activities have a special appeal about them. People are drawn to 
certain pursuits because of the excitement generated by the activ- 
ity itself. Others are attracted by the financial rewards, by the 
adulation of an audience, or by the popular esteem in which some 
activities are held. The sense of satisfaction and fulfilment afforded 
by such occupations as medicine, education, and social work can lead 
to an entire career. 

The Christian ministry was once one of those highly respected 
vocations. Shifting attitudes in recent years, however, have caused 
changes in society's values. Our "scientific" age tends to place on the 
pedestal of public esteem the research scientist, the surgeon, and the 
sports hero. Yet the reasons why the Christian minister once headed 
the list of respected leaders in American life are still valid and worthy 
of serious reflection. 

The apostle Paul wrote in this passage about the activity that 
had captivated him. He was not attracted by any financial rewards, 
for it offered none to him. He gained from it no earthly pomp, no 
public prestige (except the respect of the Christians he had helped, 
and even this was mixed). He experienced abandonment and hatred 
that would demoralize most men. Nevertheless he was so enthralled 
with the privilege of Christian ministry that he made it his career and 
never found anything that could entice him away from this glorious 
passion of his life. 

Although "the Christian ministry" is an expression often used to 
designate a certain career, "Christian ministry" should be an activity 
in which every believer is engaged. Even if it is not one's vocational 

This article will appear as chapters 3 and 4 in a forthcoming book to be 
co-published by Baker Book House and BMH Books, under the title A Heart Opened 
Wide — Studies in II Corinthians. It is used here by permission of the publishers. 


career, each Christian can share many of the same satisfactions that 
Paul describes here. The glory of this ministry can be enjoyed by 
every Christian when he understands what Christian ministry involves. 
Paul described the character of his ministry in a fascinating discussion 
which revealed why he regarded it as the most challenging of 

CHRIST (2:14-17) 

Verse 14. At this point in the letter, Paul interrupted the descrip- 
tion of his search for Titus, not resuming it until 7:5. Nevertheless the 
content of this section is pertinent to the discussion, for it reveals 
Paul's attitude of confidence in God's leading, even in times of 
disappointment. There is no need to suspect a combination of several 
documents here. 

Though he had been concerned at not finding Titus in Troas 
(2:12-13), Paul could still express thanks to God for His unfailing 
leadership. Disappointment over certain details and events did not 
cause the apostle to lose sight of the larger aspect of God's program. 
He was convinced that God was always leading him and his associates 
in the triumphant accomplishment of his glorious will. The figure is 
probably that of the Roman Triumph, in which a conquering general 
and his victorious legions would parade in Rome, displaying some of 
their captives and other trophies of war. In this use of the figure Paul 
seems to be equating his missionary party with the victorious forces 
in the triumph, rather than with the captives who would soon be 
executed. 1 

As part of a Roman Triumph garlands of flowers along the route 
and the burning of incense and spices provided a fragrant aroma as 
one of the characteristics of the parade. So Paul recognized that 
whether he and Titus were at Troas, or Corinth, or somewhere else, 
and whether circumstances were pleasant or grim, God was using his 
messengers to disseminate the precious knowledge of himself in the 
gospel of Christ. 

Verse 15. In verse 14 the fragrance referred to the gospel which 
was proclaimed by Paul and his associates. In verse 15 the preachers 
themselves are identified with the gospel they preach. They are called 
a "fragrance of Christ" (NASB) because they are the deliverers of that 

'The only other NT use of the verb GpiauPeuoo (lead in triumph) may be 
understood in the same way (Col 2:15). See H. A. Kent, Jr., Treasures of Wisdom 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978) 88-89. 


Paradoxically, these messengers of the gospel were a harbinger 
of diametrically opposite results to two groups of people. "Those who 
are being saved" and "those who are perishing" describe the two 
kinds of responses to the preaching of the gospel. At the Roman 
Triumph the aroma of the incense was a token of victory and honor 
for the conquering legions, but was a sign of sure execution to the 
captives in the parade. 

Verse 16. The previous statement is further explained by this 
verse. To unbelievers the preachers who announced the gospel were 
proclaiming a message of eternal doom which would eventually be 
experienced in the unbeliever's destruction (ek Gavdtou eic; Gavdtov, 
"out of death unto death"). To those who responded in faith, the 
gospel preacher had brought a message which comes from Christ the 
Source of true life and produces life eternal (eK C,(ar\(; eic; C,(ar\v, "out 
of life unto life"). 2 

The rhetorical question, "And who is sufficient for these things?" 
has been answered differently by readers. Some have suggested the 
answer to be, "We apostles are sufficient," inasmuch as they did not 
peddle a false message (2: 17-3:1). 3 Others regard the answer to be, "No 
one is, if he depends on his own resources" (3:4-6). The latter 
explanation is best and could be expanded as follows: Certainly the 
religious peddlers are not sufficient, for they depend upon a personal 
sufficiency with selfish motivation. Only those who depend solely 
upon God for His sufficiency can hope to bear this heavy respon- 
sibility (3:5). 

Verse 17. Paul and his companions were not like "so many" 
(NIV), who were "peddling the word of God" like common hucksters. 
The Greek term occurs only here in the NT. It is derived from the 
term for "retailer," and carried the suggestion of trickery, deceit, and 
falsehood. The verb meant "to sell at illegitimate profit, to misrepresent, 
to hawk." 5 The picture comes to mind of the cheap huckster haggling 
over prices and cheapening his goods when necessary to make a sale. 

On the contrary, Paul's proclamation of the gospel was done 
with complete sincerity. The term (eiAiicpiveia) always denoted 

Another view of these two ek . . . phrases regards them as simply indicating 
continuous progression as in Rom 1:17 ("from faith to faith") and 2 Cor 3:18 ("from 
glory to glory"). J. H. Bernard, "Second Corinthians," Expositor's Greek Testament 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.) 3. 51. 

R. C. H. Lenski The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistle to the 
Corinthians (Columbus: Wartburg, 1946)902. 

Greek: oi nolXoi. It is not always necessary to press this to its extreme sense of 
"the majority." 

5 Kd7iri>Log. See Hans Windisch, "KajniXeoco," TDNT 3 (1965) 603-5. 


moral purity and was apparently derived from the words for sun 
(fJAioc;) and test (Kpivco). Hence the sense is "tested by the light of 
the sun, spotless, pure." 6 From the subjective side of Paul's own 
mind, he had spoken with purity. Objectively, the source of his 
commission was from God (ek GeoO). Furthermore, he and his 
companions had carried on their ministry "in the sight of God," that 
is, with full consciousness that they were responsible to him and were 
being watched by him. Finally, they had spoken "in Christ," being 
fully aware of their position as members of Christ's Body and 
drawing power from their vital union with Him. Such a ministry left 
little room for suspicion. 


CONVERTS (3:1-3) 

Verse 1. At this point Paul felt a bit of awkwardness over the 
possibility that his previous statement might have sounded self- 
serving. The use of "again" could imply certain prior claims about 
himself made in previous contacts with the Corinthians or perhaps 
may reflect accusations made against him by the religious "peddlers" 
who caused him trouble (2:17). Lest the wrong impression be left, he 
quickly added another question which should have shown how 
baseless such a suspicion was. Surely Paul did not need letters of 
recommendation at this point, either to them (he had led many of 
them to Christ and had founded their church), or from them (as if he 
depended on them for acceptance elsewhere). Letters of recommenda- 
tion were a common practice when persons were otherwise unknown. 
The Corinthian church had once received one regarding Apollos 
(Acts 18:27). Antioch had received one from Jerusalem about Silas 
and Judas (Acts 15:25-27). Paul himself had written many such 
commendations (for example, Phoebe, Rom 16:1-2; Timothy, 1 Cor 
16:10-11; Barnabas, Col 4:10). If Paul had been recently disparaged 
on grounds that no one recommended him, then let the Corinthians 
pause to remember a few things. 

Verse 2. The Corinthians themselves were Paul's letter of recom- 
mendation, far better than formal credentials. Furthermore, they had 
formed such an important part of his ministry that it could be said 
they were actually inscribed in the hearts of the missionary party. 
Hence Paul and his companions had the interests of the Corinthians 
close to their hearts wherever they went. This living proof of Paul's 
authority and effectiveness as a minister of Christ should have been 

6 F. Buchsel, "EikiKpivT^, . . . ," TDNT2 (1964) 397-98. 


perfectly obvious to all persons who would take the trouble to 
examine the transformed lives of the Corinthians. 

Verse 3. Actually, it had been made clear 7 that they were Christ's 
letter. Paul and his helpers were more like amanuenses 8 whom Christ 
had used to communicate his message. Christ was the one who had 
wrought the change in the Corinthians' lives. Through his power they 
had become his letter to the world as to what the gospel could do. As 
such they were no mere document written with ink but had been 
acted upon by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Nor were they like the 
inanimate tablets of stone in the old covenant of law given to Moses. 
Rather, Christ had written his message on tablets of human hearts. 
This concept was undoubtedly based on the OT prophecy of the new 
covenant (Jer 31:33, compare Heb 8:8-12). The new covenant mediated 
by Christ through the Spirit produced an inward change whereby 
God's Word was actually implanted in believers, not just externally 
imposed. This transforming work made the believers Paul's greatest 


The source of Paul's competence (3:4-6) 

Verse 4. The confidence Paul had that Christ was speaking 
through him was no mere personal boasting. It had not resulted from 
any self-satisfaction based on strenuous effort, skillful performance, 
or unusual human competence. It was rather a conviction supplied by 
Christ himself and was a confidence that would stand up before God. 

Verse 5. Here Paul answers the question he raised in 2:16. 
Whatever adequacy or sufficiency he and his companions possessed 
was not the product of their own ability or origination. He did not 
deny that a competent piece of work had been done in their midst, 
but he disclaimed all personal credit. Adequacy for the task had come 
from God. 

Verse 6. It was God who had made his ministers competent for 
their task. Their ministry was the proclamation of the new covenant. 
This covenant was God's promise to deal in grace with his people by 
forgiving their sin and granting them new hearts. The covenant was 
validated by the death of Christ (Matt 26:28). Although national Israel 

Greek: (pavepouuevoi. The term denotes making something visible which is 

An amanuensis was a stenographer or copyist, who did the actual writing for an 


has not yet experienced the fulfilment of the covenant, the spiritual 
benefits of it are available to every believer through the gospel. It was 
as a proclaimer of this new covenant which offered regeneration to 
men that Paul was carrying out his ministry. 

The new covenant is "not of the letter but of the Spirit." We 
must not suppose that the common English contrast between "letter" 
and "spirit" as distinguishing "the letter of the law" from its underlying 
spiritual principles is meant. Paul certainly did not mean that the 
literal meaning of the OT was harmful and that only spiritual 
principles or allegorical interpretations were valid. On the contrary, 
he was contrasting the two covenants, as is clear from the context. By 
"letter" he meant the old Mosaic covenant which was a document 
externally imposed upon its adherents. "Spirit" characterizes the new 
covenant which provides an internal change wrought by the Spirit of 
God (3:3). 

The contrast between the two covenants is noted in their results. 
"The letter kills" clearly refers to the Mosaic covenant, as v 7 
indicates. It killed in the sense that it confronted man with God's 
righteous standard but left him condemned to death. The law could 
not of itself provide righteousness. Regeneration, however, is produced 
by the Spirit and provides life for everyone who by faith comes under 
the provisions of the new covenant. This is not to imply that no one 
in the OT had spiritual life. What it does indicate is that life comes by 
the action of the Spirit, not by human ability to keep God's standards. 
OT saints were saved by faith in the transforming power and grace of 
God, just as NT believers are. 

The great glory of the new covenant (3:7-11) 

Verse 7. As Paul continued to describe his ministry as involving 
the preaching of the new covenant, he showed its superiority over the 
old covenant. Doubtless the opposition he continually received from 
Judaizing teachers who stressed the Mosaic law made this emphasis 
especially important. The argument was based on the admitted glory 
of the old covenant, called here "the ministry of death." In view is the 
giving of the law on Sinai with its glorious accompanying circum- 
stances. It is called the ministry of death because it "killed" (3:6) by 
placing its offenders under condemnation. 

In spite of its death-dealing results, the old covenant was 
nevertheless a product of God and was initiated with impressive 
phenomena. One of those remarkable displays was the appearance of 
Moses' face. When he descended from the mountain, his face shone 
with a supernatural glow so that he had to put on a veil (see Exod 
34:29-35). Paul reminded his readers, however, that this glorious glow 


was a fading thing, and later he expands this thought to symbolize the 
temporary nature of the old covenant (3:11). 

Verse 8. The question is then asked, to which the answer should 
be obvious: "Will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more 
glorious?" (NIV). If the former dispensation had a covenant which 
ministered death, surely the new covenant, which provides regenera- 
tion by the Spirit 9 of God (3:3, 6), should be regarded as even more 

Verse 9. The argument is reinforced by another comparison. 
Once again Paul argues from the assumption that the old covenant, 
here termed "the ministry of condemnation," possessed a genuine 
glory. This was true even though it was a covenant that placed man 
under condemnation because no one was ever able to keep it perfectly. 

The new covenant was a different sort, and not only did not 
leave its subjects under condemnation, but provided something 
positive. Paul calls it "the ministry of righteousness" because it 
supplies its recipients with God's approval instead of condemnation. 
"Righteousness" is a legal term which denotes the judge's pronounce- 
ment that the defendant is acceptable without any broken law to 
accuse him. In the new covenant which is based upon Christ's 
substitutionary death for sinners, all who believe are provided with 
God's verdict of righteousness — His approval and acceptance, based 
not on the merits of the sinner but on the perfect righteousness of 
Christ. Surely a ministry that involves such a covenant must abound 
with glory! 

Verse 10. Paul now reaches the climax of his argument by 
pointing to the temporary character of the old covenant and the 
evident superiority of that new covenant which was planned to take 
its place. The Greek text at this point does not translate easily into 
clear English. Both NASB and NIV have paraphrased somewhat, but 
the sense is made clear. "That which has been glorified" (literal) refers 
to the old covenant mediated by Moses which had certain attendant 
glories already mentioned. "Has not been glorified in this respect" 
indicates some limitations upon the glory which it did have. "The 
glory which surpasses it" refers to the greater glory of the new 
covenant which the apostles were ministering. Paul's point is that the 
glory of the old has been eclipsed by the greater glory of the new. Just 
as the moon becomes invisible in the overpowering sunlight of the 
day, so the glory of the old covenant and its ministry has faded away. 

toO jtvsuucxtoc; (of the Spirit) is regarded here as an objective genitive, parallel 
with the other objective genitives toO Gavdxou (of death) in 3:7, and xfjq KaiaKpiaecoc; 
(of condemnation) and xfjc; SiKCuoauvric; (of righteousness) in 3:9. 


Verse 11. After acknowledging that the law existed with a 
genuine glory for a time, while at the same time noting that it was a 
transitory, fading instrument just as the glow on Moses' face (3:7), 
Paul drew the significant conclusion: How much more should we 
understand that the new covenant which replaced the former one 
remains in glory. It should be obvious that anything which God has 
given to supersede a glorious covenant must be even more glorious. 

The openness of the new covenant (3:12-18) 

Verse 12. The previous reference to the fading glory of the old 
covenant and the experience of Moses led Paul to emphasize another 
important feature of the new covenant — its openness in contrast to 
the old. 

"Having such a hope" is Paul's statement of assurance that the 
provisions of the new covenant will all be realized. Therefore, he and 
his assistants had no hesitancy in proclaiming its truth with great 
boldness. They were not fearful of the Judaizers, even though it was 
surely a startling message in Jewish circles to proclaim that the 
Mosaic law as a system for God's people had been replaced by 
another covenant. 

Verse 13. Paul used the incident at Sinai where Moses placed a 
veil over his face (Exod 34:33-35) to illustrate his point. The KJV 
translation of Exod 34:33 implies that Moses wore the veil while he 
was speaking with Israel, and then took it off. The supplied word 
"till" has been corrected to "when" in ASV, NASB, and NIV. The 
proper sense of the passage is that Israel was allowed to see the 
radiant face of Moses when he was conveying God's word to them, 
but that he covered his face when he was finished. Paul correctly 
understood the reason to be that Moses did not wish the Israelites to 
be watching his face each time the glory faded away. 10 

Verse 14. This dramatic procedure of Moses, however, was 
confronted by the spiritual hardness of Israelite hearts. Most of them 
failed to understand the true nature of the glory of Moses' face. Paul 
explains that the same spiritual dullness existed among the Jews of 
his day. Just as the veil hid the fading glory of Moses' face from 
Jewish observers, so the same sort of obscuring veil seemed to hide 
the true meaning of the old covenant when it was read by Israel. They 

This is the view of most modern commentators. P. E. Hughes, however, rejects 
this explanation and suggests Moses' action as merely intended to prevent Israel from 
continually beholding even this transient glory because of their sinfulness. Paul's 
Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 107-10. 


were unable to see that it was transient, that it pointed to Christ, and 
that it would be replaced by a new covenant. 

The obscuring veil of unbelief remains unlifted for Israel because 
it is removed only in connection with Christ and his work. Only by 
faith in him can the glory of the new covenant be seen, as well as the 
replacement of the old by the new. 

Verse 15. The previous verse described the veil as resting upon 
the old covenant and obscuring the proper understanding of it. Here 
Paul makes it clear that the fault was not with that covenant, but 
with the people. The veil was actually over their hearts. The old 
covenant was not misleading. The problem lay in the unbelief of 
Jewish hearts. This circumstance was true at the writing of 
2 Corinthians twenty-five years after Christ's resurrection. It still 
characterizes Israel as a nation more than nineteen centuries later. 

Verse 16. The language of this verse is adapted from Exod 34:34. 
There it described Moses who took the veil off when he went to speak 
with the Lord. Paul used that terminology to illustrate what happens 
when anyone turns to the Lord. Faith in Christ removes the obscuring 
veil from the heart and there is open communion with God under the 
terms of the new covenant as announced in the gospel. 

Because no subject is given in the original text for the verb 
"returns," the KJV has supplied "it," referring presumably to "hears" 
as the antecedent. NASB supplies "a man" and NIV uses "anyone." 
Contextually it is likely that "the heart of a Jew" is meant. However, 
the statement could also be regarded as a general one, "whenever one 
turns. ..." The truth is the same for Jew or gentile: turning to the 
Lord in faith removes the separating veil of obscurity, and the true 
understanding of the old covenant can be gained. 

Verse 17. There is a clear relationship of this verse to 3:6 and 8. 
There it was stated that the new covenant proceeds from the Spirit, it 
is life-giving, and is more glorious than the old covenant. Paul then 
illustrated from the life of Moses the transitory character of the old 
covenant, in contrast to the open unveiled nature of the new. Now he 
points out that the Lord Himself is the Spirit about whom he has 
been speaking. On the understanding that "the Lord" is a reference to 
Christ, as is usual with Paul, the thought is that Christ and the Spirit 
are one in essence, just as Christ and the Father are one (John 10:30) 
in that mysterious union of the Trinity. In the new covenant Christ 
brings about the inner transformation of believers by the action of the 
Spirit (called in 3:3 the Spirit of the living God). 

This activity of the Spirit of the Lord brings liberty, not deadness 
(3:6) or bondage. New birth by the Spirit has infused believers with 


new life, and brings freedom from enslavement to sin's guilt and 
power (Gal 5:1-5). 

Verse 18. Consequently, all Christians, not just the apostles, 
behold God's glory with an unveiled face. Because they have turned 
to the Lord, the veil has been removed from their understanding and 
they have open access to the revelation of God in Christ. 

Our versions vary between the concepts of "beholding as in a 
mirror" or "reflecting" as translations for a Greek word appearing 
only this once in the NT. 11 Although the idea of reflecting fits the 
parallel with Moses who reflected the glory of God, the translation 
"beholding" is usually preferred. The ancient versions commonly 
understood it this way. There is no clear instance of the verb having 
the meaning "reflect" unless it is in the active voice (it is middle here). 
Furthermore the passage speaks of believers who can now see clearly 
because the veil has been removed from them. 

With faces (and hearts) unveiled, believers may behold the glory 
of God as they are brought into relationship with him through Christ 
(see also 4:6). Those who press the imagery may identify the mirror as 
the Word, or Christ, or something else. Inasmuch as mirrors in Paul's 
day were polished metal giving somewhat imperfect images, the 
thought is explained as indicating that even though our vision of 
Christ's glory is vastly superior to the OT experiences, it is still 
something less than the final vision when we see him face to face 
(1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2). It is not necessary, however, to push the 
interpretation this far, since the emphasis in the statement is not upon 
the mirror but upon the beholding. 

As believers behold the Lord's glory, now that the veil of spiritual 
dullness is removed, they are continually being transformed 12 into his 
image. The word describes a change of form which is intrinsic. The 
true nature of the child of God is progressively revealed, just as the 
process of metamorphosis transforms the true nature of the caterpillar 
into a butterfly. Paul is referring to the progressive sanctification of 
believers whereby as they behold Christ and increase in their under- 
standing of him, they become more and more like him, from one 
stage of glory to the next. We perceive Christ's glory as we seek 
spiritual nourishment in the Word of God, the Scripture. The 
transformation is then accomplished in us supernaturally by the 
Lord, identified here as the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives the 
new covenant its distinctive character (3:6, 8). No wonder the apostle 

"The verb KcrccmTpi^co in the active means "to produce a reflection" and in the 
middle "to look at oneself in a mirror." It is the middle voice which appears in 3:18. So 
BAGD, 425-26; TDNT2 (1964) 696. 

' The present tense of the verb uETauopcpouueGa denotes progressive action. 


exulted as he did at being involved in Christian ministry which could 
accomplish such a feat! 

The glory of the Christian ministry which Paul has been describing 
did not, however, mean that it always enjoyed uninterrupted successes. 
Its glory pertained chiefly to its spiritual significance, and this feature 
is not seen by everyone. Those who tend to judge the value of 
anything solely by immediate results, outward trappings of "success," 
or by physical and temporal benefits need to realize another aspect of 
true Christian ministry. 

The sobering fact is that Christian ministry is faced with obstacles. 
The accomplishment of God's work is no easy task. Paul informed 
the church that his own ministry was beset with various kinds of 
accusations and criticisms. Furthermore, he and his assistants lived 
constantly under the threat of death. Their physical bodies were 
paying a price for their commitment to this ministry. The secret of 
their steadfastness lay in their unshakeable faith in God's revealed 
truth and in the eternal value of Christ's cause. In this vein Paul 
continued the description of the character of his ministry which he 
began in 2:14. 


Verse 1. This paragraph not only is a positive assertion of the 
openness and candor with which Paul and his assistants had ministered, 
but seems also to be a response to criticisms leveled against him by 
certain Corinthians (see 1:12, 17; 3:1). 

"This ministry" to which he referred was the ministry of the new 
covenant (3:6). It was the task of proclaiming and teaching the gospel 
of Christ, the glorious news that sins have been forgiven through 
Christ's death, and that his perfect righteousness has been made 
available to those who will trust him for it. Paul had previously 
disclaimed any personal adequacy that had made him worthy of this 
responsibility (3:5). Now once again he evidences deep humility by 
saying "we received mercy" in being given such a task. Does this imply 
that some of the religious peddlers at Corinth (2: 17) were suggesting that 
Paul and his associates were too high-handed or authoritarian when 
they preached among them? Then let them know that Paul's ministry 
was no display of ego or personal vanity, but the response of one who 
viewed his position as an instance of God's mercy on undeserving 

Consequently, Paul and his men did not "lose heart" 
(eyKaKouuev). In spite of accusations and difficulties, they continued 
performing their ministry without cowardice or discouragement. A 
firm conviction of the nature of their mission kept them going. 


Verse 2. Paul claimed an openness about his ministry with 
complete absence of any sort of secrecy or subterfuge. There had been 
a renunciation or disowning of those things which one hides because 
of a sense of shame. 13 As ministers of God, there had been no trickery 
in their methods or their message. They had done no falsifying or 
adulterating of the Word of God when they proclaimed the gospel. 
They were not guilty of giving wrong emphases or witholding 
significant parts of the truth. 

Again, one can imagine that certain criticisms of Paul may be 
alluded to here. Had Judaizing teachers accused him of omitting 
certain teachings regarding compliance with Mosaic rites? Were they 
accusing him of enticing gentiles with a watered-down message of 
salvation at the outset, with the scheme in mind of adding the other 
essentials later? Paul's clear answer was that the Word of God had 
been handled in such a way as to display its truth to every open- 
minded listener. It has been taught not only for intellectual stimulation, 
but its moral and spiritual implications had been clearly aimed at the 
conscience of each hearer. This in turn should have commended the 
preachers themselves to the conscience of every Corinthian as being 
faithful messengers of God. These words reflect no self-seeking on the 
part of Paul, but rather were his solemn recognition that his ministry 
was carried on "in the sight of God," who was not only guiding his 
labors, but was also enlightening the consciences of those who were 
open to his truth. How refreshing it would be if it could be said of 
every preacher that his chief commendation was his fidelity to the 
truth of God's Word and the impact which he makes upon the 
consciences of his hearers. 

Verse 3. Paul recognized, however, that not everyone responds 
favorably to the gospel. The reference to "every man's conscience" (4:2) 
was a generalization with many exceptions. "Even if our gospel is 
veiled" (NASB, NIV) states a condition which he was willing to 
assume as true. 14 He quickly explained, however, that the problem 
was not with the gospel nor its preachers but with the unbelieving 
hearers. It is veiled to "those who are perishing." Paul has moved in 
his figure from the veil over the face of Moses (3:13) to the veil over 
the heart of Israel (3:15), and now the veil is over the gospel as far as 
unbelievers are concerned. 

Verse 4. This veiling of the gospel was not because Paul had used 
secrecy in his preaching or deviousness in his methods. Rather it was 

13 This is BAGD's translation of id Kpunxd xf\q aiaxuvnq ("the hidden things of 
shame"). The translation "hidden things of dishonesty" (KJV) reflects the obsolete 
English usage of "dishonest" in the sense of "shameful." 

14 A first class condition, using ei with the indicative mood. 


because the thoughts of perishing unbelievers had been blinded by the 
"god of this world." The reference is to Satan, who is called elsewhere 
by the similar titles "prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and 
"prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2). He is "god," not in any 
dualistic sense as equal to and independent of the true God, but only 
in the limited sense that his followers so regard him, and at present 
God allows him to utilize this power over the minds of sinners. 
Because of Satan's action in blinding the minds of sinners, they 
are not able to see the illumination of the glory of Christ which the 
gospel provides. The good news about Jesus Christ as Lord, his 
unique Person, his stupendous works, and his incomparable 
teachings — all are minimized, explained away, or otherwise perverted 
so that the spiritual enlightenment which could save their souls from 
destruction is disregarded. The glory of Christ is essentially his 
unique person as the image of God, the one who is the revealer of the 
invisible God (Col 1:15; John 1:18), on whom men must depend if 
they would see the Father (John 14:9) and receive salvation. 

Verse 5. Paul will not let his readers escape the real issue 
involved in Christian ministry. It was not a promotion of the 
preacher, directly or indirectly. He and his associates had never 
preached themselves. The heart of their ministering the gospel was 
their proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord. 15 This acknowledgment is 
basic to the gospel (Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3) and thus lay at the heart of 
Paul's message. One should beware of drawing categorical distinc- 
tions between accepting Christ as Savior and accepting him as Lord. 
Both are clearly involved in any true commitment to Christ. 

Just as Paul had been faithful in presenting Christ as Lord in his 
preaching, so he and his associates had been careful to maintain their 
own position as servants among the Corinthians. He did not mean 
that the Corinthians were the masters, for Christ was the Master 
whom they served. But he did mean that as Christ's servants, they 
had followed his orders and that had involved ministering to the 

Verse 6. The reason why the messengers gave no thought to 
promoting themselves was due to the overwhelming grandeur of the 
Source from which their message came. God, who had once brought 
physical light out of darkness by his creative command (Gen 1:3), had 
himself shone with spiritual enlightenment in the hearts of believers. 
At creation, light resulted from a command of God. At regeneration, 
God himself shines as the illumination. 

Word order suggests that tcupiov should be regarded as a predicate usage, "Jesus 
Christ as Lord." If it were simply part of the title, one would have expected it to be 
first in the series: "Lord Jesus Christ." 


This light from God is explained as the knowledge of God as 
revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. Sin hardens the heart (3:14), 
makes it unbelieving and insensitive to God (3:16), and is utilized by 
Satan to keep men in the spiritual darkness of unbelief (4:4). The 
great mission of Christ is his role as the image of God to reveal the 
Father's glory to men when they have a spiritual encounter with 
his Son. 

For Paul this transforming encounter had occurred on the 
Damascus road more than twenty years earlier. At that time he had 
been struck down with an overpowering light and had seen the 
glorious Lord who identified himself as Jesus (Acts 9:1-9; 22:5-11; 
26:12-18). Some of the phenomena of that occasion probably 
influenced Paul's language here ("light," "glory of God," "face of 
Christ"). However, one must not limit the thrust of this verse simply 
to the miraculous physical happenings on that day. The use of the 
plural "our hearts" shows that more than one person was in the 
apostle's thought, and the reference to God's action of shining in 
"hearts" applies to the spiritual experience of every believer. 


Present trials of God's messenger (4:7-12) 

Verse 7. Paul's ministry of proclaiming the new covenant (3:6) 
carried with it certain burdens. Not the least of them was the presence 
of various trials which God's messengers must undergo. "This 
treasure" refers to the light of the knowledge of God in Christ as 
explained in the preceding verse. This sublime truth is contained, 
however, in "earthen vessels" ("jars of clay," NIV). The figure depicts 
pottery jars used as storage for all sorts of items. Household lamps 
were made of clay to hold oil and a wick. Valuables were stored in 
such jars. The Dead Scrolls were found in pottery jars after being 
hidden for nineteen centuries. Paul used the figure to depict either the 
human body with its frailties, or perhaps the entire human per- 
sonality 16 inasmuch as body, soul, and spirit are a unity, and all are 
subject to weakness, suffering, and discouragement. 

Paul wanted no mistake to be made about the true nature of the 
Christian message in comparison to the significance of the minister. 
The human instrument is weak and expendable; the message is vital 
and of inestimable value. By utilizing frail human ministers, God 
demonstrates that the "surpassing greatness of the power" (NASB) 
which transforms men's lives is from God and not from any preacher. 

16 Alfred Plummer, Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (ICC; Edinburgh: 
T. & T. Clark, 1915) 127. 


Verse 8. In a series of four contrasting parallels, Paul shows what 
he and other true ministers were continually facing. "Troubled on 
every side, yet not distressed" (KJV) has been also translated "hard 
pressed . . . but not crushed" (NIV). The idea is that in spite of 
pressures that would thwart their effectiveness, they were never 
completely crushed so that their ministry totally failed. In Paul's 
ministry such experiences were multiplied. At Philippi, for example, 
he was arrested and imprisoned; yet the gospel was not stopped, for 
the jailer and his household were converted (Acts 16). At Corinth, he 
had been arrested and accused before the provincial governor, but 
dismissal of the case gave new opportunities for the gospel. 

"Perplexed, but not despairing" is a play on words 17 which is 
not easily preserved in English. One has rendered it "being at a loss, 
but not having lost out." 18 These contrasting phrases emphasize 
human inability as offset by divine enablement. Perhaps Paul was 
thinking of experiences like his recent one at Ephesus, where the riot 
in the city left him powerless to act, and yet God still preserved his 
Christian witness (Acts 19). 

Verse 9. They were continually being persecuted by opponents of 
the Christian message, but they were never abandoned by the Lord 
who had sent them. Paul regularly experienced pursuit by one group 
or another. He was frequently a hunted man (Acts 9:23-24, 28-29; 
13:50; 14:5-6, 19-20; et al.). Yet never did they conclude that God had 
forsaken them, and for this reason they continued their ministry. 
From time to time adversaries might succeed in casting them down, 
but never would this result in their destruction before their mission 
was accomplished. God's enablement was still in operation, even 
though great obstacles were faced by his messengers 

Verse 10. Here Paul begins an explanation of the preceding 
paradoxes. The sufferings which the apostolic party experienced, 
along with the successful accomplishment of their mission in spite of 
impending disaster, must be interpreted as Paul here indicates. Their 
sufferings were actually a "carrying about in the body the dying of 
Jesus." The next verse (4:1 1) is parallel in thought and makes it clear 
that Christ's physical sufferings and death were in view. Paul and the 
other apostles were constantly under threat of physical death just as 
Jesus was. Now the hatred of men for the Son of God was being 
directed against Paul and others as they attempted to carry out their 
Christian ministry. The word "dying" (veicpcoaiv) does not mean 
simply "death," but the process of dying. He chose this term to 

Greek: &7topounevoi akK ouk e^aTiopou|ievoi. 
18 R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of I and II Corinthians, 977-78. 


emphasize not just one act, but the repeated sufferings which were 
directed against his life in order to put him to death. 

Nevertheless Paul could look beyond the trials to the grander 
purpose which was being served. God's suffering servants not only 
showed their identification with Christ by their willingness to suffer 
as he did, but they also displayed his life in their bodies. It was Christ 
living in them that enabled them not to be crushed, be despairing, feel 
forsaken, or be destroyed. They ran the risk of death in order to 
proclaim the new life in Christ, and they did this by personal 
demonstration of Christ's life in their own lives. 

Verse 11. In this parallel expression, Paul's meaning in the 
preceding verse is more fully explained. As ministers of Christ he and 
the other apostles were continually exposed to the danger of physical 
death. This was what Paul meant by carrying about in his body "the 
dying of Jesus." He had learned at the very beginning of his Christian 
life that persecution directed against Christians was regarded by Jesus 
as actually directed against him (Acts 9:4-5; cf. Col 1:24). The 
purpose, however, was not to undergo suffering for suffering's sake, 
but that "the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal 
flesh." The proclamation of the new life in Christ became more 
clearly manifested when it was set forth against such a dramatic 
background. The eternal life provided by Jesus who said "I am the 
life" (John 14:6) enabled his messengers to be victorious in spite of 
physical weakness and would ultimately make them triumphant even 
though many of them would experience a martyr's death. 

Verse 12. In summation, death was an ever-present reality with 
Christ's messengers, but his purposes were being accomplished because 
eternal life was being received by the Corinthians and others who had 
responded to the gospel. 

Paul was not describing explicitly the experience of every 
Christian in this passage, but primarily that of himself and the other 
apostles. In the context he was not talking about the Corinthians, but 
about those who had preached to them. Nevertheless the principle 
was set forth that God's servants have his truth in earthen vessels that 
are fragile and subject to damage. By application of this principle 
every Christian may recognize that physical weakness and opposition 
from adversaries can cause hardship in the performance of any 
Christian ministry. 

Importance of faith to God's messenger (4:13-18) 

Verse 13. It must not be supposed, however, that Paul's previous 
words were a bitter complaint about the personal difficulties of his 


ministry. What sustained him and his companions was the same 
viewpoint and attitude which the psalmist expressed in Ps 116:10, 
"I believed, therefore I spoke." The context of these words in the 
psalm reveals the writer to have been in great adversity (116:3, 6, 8). 
Yet his faith in God caused him to pray for deliverance (116:4), and 
he continued to bear his testimony, believing that God ultimately 
brings vindication to his saints whether in this life or the next 
(116:2, 9, 10, 15). This same "spirit of faith" 19 permeated Paul and his 
suffering companions. It was because they had an abiding faith in 
God who had revealed his Son to them that they continued to speak 
forth the gospel in spite of continual risk and frequent affliction. 

Verse 14. A firm faith in the resurrection made Paul willing to 
risk death in order to carry out his ministry. He was convinced that 
the Father had raised Jesus for he had seen him on the Damascus 
road. He also firmly believed that Christ's resurrection had guaranteed 
the resurrection of all others who were united to him by faith. 
Consequently, no fear of death could divert him from his mission of 
proclaiming the new covenant that God has provided for men (3:6). 

Does it seem that Paul had earlier expected to avoid death 
through the rapture ( 1 Thess 4:13ff.), but has now become resigned to 
dying and looks only to the resurrection? It is better to understand 
Paul's view as exactly what our Lord had taught: namely, that his 
coming was imminent, but unpredictable. Every believer should be 
ready at all times for either eventuality. We should long for the 
Lord's return and the prospect of meeting him by whatever route he 
may require of us. 

Verse 15. So firm was Paul's faith that he could look with joy at 
the outcome of his labors, even though they were being done at 
tremendous cost. "All things" that he and the other ministers were 
undergoing were for the benefit of the Corinthians and other 
Christians. His eye of faith saw beyond the immediate trials. What he 
saw was God's saving grace being multiplied through a continous 
stream of new converts. As the grace of God in the gospel was 
received by more and more people, the thanksgiving of their grateful 
hearts would overflow and bring glory to God. It was faith that 
enabled him to have God's perspective. 

Some interpreters explain this phrase as "the Spirit of faith," a direct reference to 
the Holy Spirit; others have suggested an indirect reference to the Spirit as the 
bestower of a gift of faith. However, the expression is more generally understood here 
as denoting a spiritual state or disposition. Compare the similar phrase of Paul, 
"a spirit of meekness" (1 Cor 4:21, Gal 6:1). 


Verse 16. In spite of great obstacles, therefore, Paul and his 
associates did not "lose heart" (eyKciKouuev). The same verb is used 
as in 4:1. No amount of discouragement could make him abandon his 
mission. He freely admitted that his "outer man" was decaying. He 
had previously spoken of physical life as "earthen vessels" (4:7) and 
would later refer to it as an "earthly tent" (5:1). Furthermore, the 
hardships of travel and the heavy burden of the care of the churches 
placed great strain upon his physical body. His various imprisonments, 
beatings, and continual harassments had left their scars. 

Nevertheless, of far greater significance in Paul's eyes was the 
"inner man," and here the story was far different. His inner man was 
being renewed as each day passed by. The reference is to the 
Christian's regenerated spiritual existence which can grow stronger in 
spite of physical weakness. This inner man is also called by Paul the 
"new man" (Col 3:10), and is described as experiencing continuous 
renewal as believers increase in their understanding of God through 
the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16). As Paul's Christian 
life progressed toward its inevitable earthly close, his physical 
capacities might lessen, but his spiritual awareness of God's program 
continued to develop. He understood more clearly the values which 
should govern the Christian's outlook, and he shared them with his 

Verse 17. Because of the spiritual insight which his inner man 
now understood, he could refer to his incredible trials as "momentary, 
light affliction." Humanly considered, they could have been regarded 
far differently, and Paul himself did not minimize their severity 
(4:8-12). Yet Paul here was looking at them in the light of Romans 
8:28 and the eternal purposes of God. He understood that, severe as 
they were, they were momentary and light in comparison to the 
"eternal weight of glory" which lies ahead for all who trust the Lord 
and serve him faithfully. "Weight" (Pdpo<;) is probably used in 
contrast to "light" or "lightness" (e^cuppov). Human assessment would 
call physical afflictions a heavy weight. Paul said they were actually 
light in comparison to the glory that "far outweighs them all" (NIV). 
Faith enabled him to view his life this way. 

Verse 18. This statement gives the essence of Paul's ability to see 
the glory of Christian ministry rather than to be disillusioned by the 
obstacles. He and others like him had learned not to focus their gaze 
on things which are seen, but to fix their attention with eyes of faith 
on things which are not seen. They had learned the basic truth that 
the matters of this present world, including even the most serious of 
human afflictions, are only transitory. It is the unseen things of the 


spiritual life that are of eternal value. The regenerated life, the 
continuing ministry of the Spirit, the growing comprehension of God 
through daily communion with him, the promises of God for the 
present and the future — all of these and many more are things not 
seen, but they are just as real as the visible objects of this world and 
are far more permanent. With this kind of spiritual emphasis in 
Paul's life, no earthly obstacle could blur his vision of the glory of 
serving Christ. 





Weston W. Fields 

Live and Dead metaphors and similes and other idioms are often 
the testing ground for the quality of a Bible translation. Meaningful 
translation must try to transfer these figures into the receptor language 
idiomatically. Yet many modern translations take the course of 
formal and not dynamic equivalence, and in the process often obscure 
the meaning of the text. If the principles suggested are followed in the 
translation of these figures, the meaning of the Bible will be more 
accurately conveyed to its readers. 


The quality of a Bible translation may be measured by many 
things, but among the most telling is a translation's method of 
handling fixed idioms, especially live and dead metaphors and similes. 
Anyone who translates any language for any purpose struggles with 
idioms, but Bible translators seem to struggle the most. There are 
both linguistic and theological reasons for this. 

On the linguistic side, there is often no agreement, even among 
translators of a particular version, about how idioms ought to be 
translated. There is an implicit if not explicit truism among those 
trained more in the biblical languages than in linguistics that even 
though a word-for-word, or "formal-equivalence," translation is 
strictly impossible if one is to transfer a message coherently from one 
language to another, the more closely one approximates such a 
formal equivalence, the more accurately he will convey the meaning 
from the source language to the receptor language. 


On the theological side, the suspicion of translations which do 
not in some way show word-for-word correspondence with the orig- 
inal language usually finds its source in a misunderstanding of the 
task of translation, generically speaking. Since those who believe the 
Bible is the inspired message of God place a high value on knowing 
the meaning of that message as accurately as possible, it follows that 
they are concerned that the process of translation neither adds to nor 
deletes from that message. But frequently one encounters the errone- 
ous belief that a difference in number and order of words in the 
transference from the source language to the receptor language 
somehow equals a difference in meaning in the translation. Every 
translator, however, from the third-grade student who is studying 
French to the seasoned scholar who has years of translation experi- 
ence, knows this is not true. Yet, among Bible translators and biblical 
language scholars there is very often a distrust of a translator who 
espouses the translation of meaning, or who casts Greek, Hebrew, 
and Aramaic idioms (especially dead metaphors) into idiomatic 
English. This is so much the case, that even the New International 
Version, which many strangely criticize for being "too idiomatic," or 
"too loose," or "too free" sometimes errs on the side of not being 
idiomatic enough. And if one considers the New American Standard 
Bible or older versions like the American Standard Version of 1901 
and the King James Version of 1611, he is overwhelmed by idioms 
that were never translated, but only assigned a meaningless or nearly 
meaningless series of English glosses. 

This is not just a problem with English translations. It was a 
problem when the LXX was translated, and it has continued in all 
translations until the present. But since the readers of this journal are 
primarily native speakers of English, it is with the English rendering 
of biblical idioms, especially dead metaphors and similes, that this 
article concerns itself. 


One must first have clearly in mind what the task of translation 
is, and not everyone agrees on that task. Some define translation in 
terms of meaning alone: a translation should accurately convey to the 
receptor language the meaning of the source language. 1 Others extend 
the task of the translator to the reaction of the receptors: a translation 

'John Beekman and John Callow, Translating the Word of God (Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1974) 19-44. 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idioms 193 

should evoke in its receptors the same response that the original 
evoked in its original receptors. 

The first of these methods focuses on meaning, but it cannot 
ignore the response of the reader which is intrinsic to the conveyance 
of that meaning and which is accomplished both in the original and 
in the translation by form, style, and even by what (to cast a live 
metaphor) one might call "texture." 

Some Bible translators have reacted strongly, however, against 
defining translation in terms of receptor response. But there was 
originally a receptor response and there will always inevitably be a 
receptor response, so it seems unwise to ignore or argue against it. On 
the contrary, the translator should be aware of it and manipulate it as 
precisely as he is able. The lofty poetry of Isaiah, translated as lofty 
poetry in English will doubtless produce a response in the mind of a 
twentieth-century American similar to the one in the mind of an 
eighth-century B.C. Hebrew. One cannot be entirely certain about 
that, but he can be certain that he is much closer to the mark than if 
he changed the style to that of the law-code or historical narrative. 3 
The simple historical narratives of the gospels should be translated 
into that form in English — simple historical narratives, and if they are 
translated idiomatically, then there is a reasonable possibility that 
responses similar to those of their original receptors will be evoked in 
their modern readers. 

Thus, a translation should transfer the meaning of the source 
language without additions or deletions into the meaning of the 
receptor language in such a way that it evokes in its modern readers a 
response that is as nearly as possible like that evoked in its original 

This requirement that a translation be free of additions or 
deletions in meaning does not mean that the translator is a word 
counter. If one were to ask someone "Comment ca va?" ("How are 
you?"), and he were to reply, "Comme ci, comme ga," ("So, so"), the 
translator has not distorted the message, nor has he added anything 
to the meaning, when he translates the French by the English "Not 
too good, not too bad," nor has he deleted anything if he translates 
"So, so." In the one case there are six words to the French four, and 

2 For this emphasis, see the writings of Eugene Nida, especially, Eugene A. Nida, 
Toward A Science of Translating (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964); Eugene A. Nida and 
Charles R. Tabor, The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974); 
and Anwar S. Dil, ed., Language Structure and Translation: Essays by Eugene A. Nida 
(Stanford: Stanford University, 1975). 

3 Cf. Nida and Tabor, The Theory and Practice of Translation, 145-52. 


in the other case two, but the meaning is the same. Yet this word- 
counting or word approximation methodology appears again and 
again in modern versions, such as the awkward "and he answered and 
said" for 6 5e dnoKpiGeic; euiev (Luke 15:29, NASB), apparently based 
on LXX's rendering of the Hebrew "lDX*! ]T') throughout the OT, 
when such a translation cannot possibly be real English syntax. The 
English expression is "he replied," correctly translated in the NIV. 
But extraneous additions sometimes occur — and these must be 
avoided. An example of such an addition would be the Living Bible's 
translation of Rev 3:10, where 6pyr\, "wrath," is translated "Great 
Tribulation." This translation might be accepted by some dispensa- 
tionalists as true, but it is adding something to the meaning of the 
verse which is not actually there. 


It is the translation of dead metaphors which, more than almost 
anything else, shows the linguistic mettle of a translation. What does 
one do with fixed Greek metaphors which make little or no sense 
when translated "literally" or by means of "formal equivalence" into 
English? Some idioms force the translator to be idiomatic in English. 
Ti euoi Kcti ooi cannot possibly be translated, "What to me and to 
you?" since that is meaningless, and even the most "literal" word-for- 
word formal correspondence translations have to add something. One 
must search the receptor language for the native equivalent (and it is 
doubtful that "What have I to do with you?" is a very close choice). 
If, then, some idioms force the translator to find a native equivalent, 
why should not the translator always find such equivalents? There 
does not seem to be any reason not to, unless one has unnecessarily 
tied himself to form and word order. 


A dead metaphor may be defined simply as a fixed idiom — a 
metaphor which has become so much a part of the language that the 
original impetus for its usage may even be forgotten. In English there 
are such idioms as "being in the doghouse," or "down in the dumps," 
or "wind up an argument." Language is replete with them, and would 
in fact lose much of its color if they were excised. On the simile side 
there are an equal number: "busy as a bee," "reckless as a bull in a 
china shop," "sly as a fox." 

A live metaphor or simile, on the other hand, is a comparison 
which is new, made for the occasion, and thus originally capable of 
being understood immediately without any background information. 
Scriptural examples of live metaphors would be such things as Jesus' 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idioms 195 

"I am the vine, you are the branches," or Paul's "grafted into the olive 

There are a number of idioms which do not fit into these 
categories, but which are nevertheless fixed expressions, and which, 
therefore, must be translated not word for word, but expression by 
expression. Again, all languages depend considerably on these, and 
the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible are little different. akXd ye Kai 
auv 7raaiv toutok; xpiiriv Taurr|v r^uepav ayei dcp' ou tauta eyEvexo 
could be glossed "but indeed also with all these things third this day is 
leading since which these things came about," and some degree of 
meaning would be transferred. But it is much better to translate 
something like "And in addition to all of this, this is the third day 
since these things happened" (Luke 24:21). 

The important parts 

Beekman and Callow point out three important parts of a 
metaphor or simile, each of which must be considered in the transla- 
tion process, though sometimes one or even two of these parts is only 
implied and not stated: 

(1) the topic. This is the item which is illustrated in the metaphor 
or simile. 

(2) the image. This is the metaphorical part of the figure. 

(3) the point of similarity. This is the explanation of the simi- 
larity suggested between the image and topic. 4 

Thus, in the phrase £>ioyio"0r|U£v (be, 7rpo(3aTa acpayfj*;, "we are 
considered as sheep ready to be slaughtered" (Rom 8:26, quoting 
Ps 44:22), (1) "we" is the topic; (2) "sheep" is the image; and 
(3) "ready for slaughter" is the point of similarity. 

Many times, one or two of these parts must be inferred, since the 
speaker left it up to the receptors to understand the idiom without its 
full statement. An example of this would be Luke 24:32, where those 
who had been listening to Christ on the Emmaus road said to each 
other: ou^i t) Kap5ia f)ua>v Kaiopivn, fjv ev f|uiv (be, sAdXei r|(j.iv, 
"Wasn't our heart burning within us as he spoke to us?" In this case 
the (1) topic is "heart"; (2) the image is "was burning"; and (3) the 
point of similarity is understood: "like fire burns." 

Translating dead figures 

Such "dead" or "fixed" metaphors and similes are not hard to 
find in the NT, but judging from the translations of them that one 
finds even in modern versions, they are more difficult to translate 

"Beekman and Callow, Translating the Word of God, 127. 


than to find. It is helpful, therefore, to review some principles for the 
translation of these before alternative translations for these and other 
examples in the biblical text are offered. 

The discussion of Beekman and Callow is the most helpful recent 
treatment of dead figures, although their concern is broader than just 
translation into English: they are offering principles for translators 
who are working in all languages, especially those newly reduced to 
writing and often coming from a cultural milieu much more different 
than even Western culture from the one out of which the Bible came. 
Thus, English translators do not face all of the same problems that 
one might encounter in some other languages. 

For example, some languages are intolerant of new metaphors. 
No more metaphors are being formed in the language, so the transla- 
tion process must include only those native to the language. All 
others must be explained. 5 English, on the other hand, often tolerates 
new metaphors, and especially similes, a fact which has facilitated 
more wooden formal equivalence translations — though often with a 
partial or even total loss or obscuration of the meaning of the 

Furthermore, some metaphorical meanings are excluded by cur- 
rent usages in the language. Beekman and Callow cite the problem of 
translating Luke 13:32, where Herod is called a "fox." "In Mayo, 
animal names simply refer to the last name of the individual. He is a 
'fox' since he belongs to the family called 'fox.'" 6 

English translators also sometimes face the problem of image 
transfer. Thus the image artMyxva kcu oiKtipuoi "bowels and mer- 
cies" (a case of hendiadys, Phil 2:1) is unfamiliar to English readers so 
that some kind of adjustment is necessary if any meaning is to be trans- 
ferred in the translation from the source language to the receptor lan- 
guage. A striking example of this is found in Ps 1:1, where ^"HST 
1E57 S7 D^XDIl is translated even by the NIV, "[Blessed is the man 
who does] not . . . stand in the way of sinners." While the context 
makes the meaning clear to the careful reader, there is an unfortunate 
collocational clash devised here because in the normal English idiom 
"stand in the way of means to hinder, and so the "blessed" man is 
here one who does not hinder sinners! It would have been much 
better to translate the metaphor by a native idiom such as "does not 
follow the example of sinners," a translation which conveys the 
meaning unambiguously and is lexically and semantically supportable. 

Such problems of image transfer abound in languages which 
have had little or no previous contact with the Bible, and most books 

'Ibid., 141-53. 
5 Ibid., 141. 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idioms 197 

on translation list many. 7 Thus, to use the example of the fox as a 
metaphor for Herod, in one Mexican Indian language a fox is one 
who steals, in another he is one who is heartless, and in another he is 
one who cries a lot; 8 but the biblical image means to convey the idea 
"sly." In these language one would have to expand to "Herod who is 
as sly as a fox" or something equally meaningful. A sheep in one of 
these Mexican languages is someone who does not understand; in 
another, someone with long hair; in another, a drunkard who does 
not respond when hit; and in another, someone who is often seen 
courting his girl friend. 9 Thus, similar adjustments would have to be 
made to figures involving this word. 

Such problems call for some principles for translators. It seems 
best to use a kind of hierarchy for the expression of these principles. 

(1) If the dead metaphor or simile has an idiomatic formal 
equivalent in the receptor language, that equivalent should be used. If 
there is no idiomatic formal equivalent (a word-for-word translation), 

(2) It may be necessary to change a metaphor to an idiomatic 
simile, or in the case of a simile, to change only one or two of the 
three constituent parts of a simile, or to state implied parts of a 
metaphor or simile. If this is impossible, then 

(3) It is necessary to translate the metaphor or simile by a native 
idiom which corresponds not inform, but in meaning. In some cases 

(4) It may be necessary to combine any or all of these three in 
order to arrive at a meaningful translation. 

It is perhaps helpful to consider illustrations of each of the first 
three of these possible situations in translation. 

(1) An idiomatic formal equivalent is available. Most speakers of 
English are familiar enough with either the ocean or lakes to under- 
stand what James means when he says that a doubter is £oiicev 
KALJ8(ovi QaXaaar\c, dveui^ouevco mi piTti^ouevq), "like an ocean 
wave, blown and tossed." The transfer from the source language to 
the receptor language is accomplished by a word-for-word glossing, 
and even the order is almost retained with no loss to the meaning 
(though the order is in fact irrelevant). 

(2) A metaphor changed to an idiomatic simile in the receptor 
language or constituent parts or a simile changed, or implied parts 
stated. Thus, in Navajo one may not translate "hunger and thirst for 

7 Cf. Nida and Tabor, The Theory and Practice of Translation, 106-7. 
8 Beekman and Callow, Translating the Word of God, 138. 
9 Ibid., 139. 


righteousness" (Matt 5:6), but one may translate "like hungering and 
thirsting, they desire righteousness." Likewise, Acts 2:20 presents 
some interesting difficulties, which may be partially solved by chang- 
ing the metaphor to a simile. The first phrase can be transferred 
easily: "the sun will be darkened," but the second phrase, Kai r| 
aeA.r|vr| eic, aiua, "and the moon [will be turned into] blood" is not 
quite so easy. Larsen suggests "The moon shall become like blood," 11 
but the addition of the implicit point of similarity would be helpful 
(especially since this is first of all a Hebrew metaphor from Joel 3:4, 
D17 n"Pni, and secondly only a formal equivalence translation in the 
LXX, taken over by the NT). Thus, a translation "and the moon will 
turn as red as blood" is probably even better. 12 In this case the 
implicit point of similarity, "red," is stated, which makes for the more 
accurate transference of the meaning, since without the simile one 
might infer that the moon would be turned into actual blood, a 
meaning that the Hebrew probably does not carry at all. Larson 
implies, in fact, that many live metaphors should be changed to 
similes, apparently to avoid ambiguity. 13 This may be more necessary 
in languages other than English, but if "this is my blood," and "this is 
my body" were translated "this is like [represents] my blood," and 
"this is like [represents] my body," the ambiguity that resulted in the 
doctrine of transubstantiation would certainly be removed. 

(3) Metaphors and similes which must be completely recast. In 
this category are verses which must be either partially or completely 
recast in order to communicate their meaning most accurately in the 
idiom of the receptor language. Thus, Rom 16:4, eautcov Tptixr|Aov 
imeGr^Kav, "they laid down their own neck," is not a good translation 
because it misses the English idiom. It needs only partial adjustment, 
however, to be idiomatic: "they risked their own necks," and one 
could accept something completely recast, like "they risked their 
lives" (NIV). 

Perhaps Luke 24:32 ought to be put into this category as well. 
"Wasn't our heart burning within us?" is certainly not idiomatic 
English, and it is a poor translation since it evokes at least un- 
consciously another English idiom which means something entirely 
different: "heartburn" as a description of the burning sensation in the 
esophagus and stomach caused by excess stomach acidity. It would 
probably be better to use another English idiom that is exactly 

Nida, Toward A Science of Translating, 220. 

Mildred Larson, A Manual for Problem Solving in Bible Translation (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 87. 

As done, for example, by TEV. 

Larson, A Manual for Problem Solving in Bible Translation, 87. 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idioms 199 

equivalent in meaning, like "Didn't a tingle go up our spine?" or 
"Didn't it almost take our breath away?" 14 or "Didn't our heart 
almost stop?" (in which case the image is retained, but not the point 
of similarity), or "Wasn't it like a fire burning in us?" (in which case it 
would fit into category 2, a metaphor changed into a simile, TEV). 

Translating live figures 

Live metaphors and similes, in contrast to dead figures, are 
expressions newly made up for the purpose of illustration on a 
particular occasion. "I am the true vine and my father is the farmer" 
(John 15:1) is an instance of live metaphor. Other examples are "you 
are the salt of the earth" (Matt 5:13) and "you are the light of the 
world" (Matt 5:14). 15 

In general it is easier to translate live metaphors and similes 
directly into English, but each case must be considered on its own 
merits, and the translator must make the decision as to which of these 
four suggestions above may be applicable. 


"What have I done to you?" 

There are many idioms which do not fit into the category of dead 
metaphors and similes. All translations of any kind into any language 
must recognize some of these and translate them meaningfully if the 
translation is to be coherent at all. It is therefore not a question of 
whether to translate idioms in a dynamically equivalent way; it is only 
a question of how many one will translate in this way. But strangely 

14 It is possible that this translation is also supported by the Hebrew of Josh 2:1 1. 
In this passage Rahab is telling the spies that she has heard about all the miracles 
performed by the Lord for them on their way out of Egypt. She concludes by saying 
that when she and her people heard about these miracles their "hearts melted" and 
"each man lost his breath" (U^X? nil Til? n!pj?"X' , ? , l M22b 073'! 170^31). It is 
interesting to notice that both of these expressions seem to be describing the same 
reaction. In this case the reaction is terror — a loss of courage in the face of the 
conquering Israelites. But the reaction of men is physiologically similar whether it is 
terror or amazement, as in the case of Luke 24:32. Thus, it may be most proper to use 
the other half of the Hebrew expression which is also found in English ("took our 
breath away") for the Greek expression which is not found in English ("our hearts 
burned"). And while it is true that the idiom in Luke may find a parallel in Lysias, 
33:7, "being in a fever of excitement" (LSJ, 860), it is much more likely that these men 
on the road to Emmaus were speaking a Semitic language and that this idiom comes 
either from Hebrew or Aramaic (0070 is "melt" in either one; cf. Macus Jastrow, 
comp., A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the 
Midrashic Literature, 2 vols, [reprint, Brooklyn: P. Shalom, 1967], 1.809). 

15 For others, see Larson, A Manual/or Problem Solving in Bible Translation, 87. 


even the NIV seems to miss some of these and sometimes chooses the 
course of formal equivalence, even when it results in zero or little 
meaning. An interesting example of this can be found in 1 Kgs 19:20, 
where Elijah replies to Elisha, \? *'lVJlW"nft, "What I have done to 
you?", translated by the LXX, oxi 7t£7to(r|Kd ooi. One wonders 
whether the LXX should have read xi instead of on, which would 
have at least translated the Hebrew formally. The Vulgate follows the 
Hebrew with "quod enim meum erat feci tibi?" But the idiom has not 
been adequately translated by NIV, which only produces the word- 
for-word gloss, "what have I done to you," which has little meaning 
in the context, where the phrase obviously means "what have I done 
to stop you?" 16 Here some implied information must be translated in 
order for the English to fit the context. 

"What to me and to you?" 

The foregoing phrase is similar to an even more striking phrase, 
translated by formal equivalence in the LXX and taken over verbatim 
into the NT by John. In 2 Kgs 3:13 Joram, son of Ahab and king of 
the Northern Kingdom, comes to Elisha to find out how the war with 
Moab will go. Elisha is unhappy about this idolator's sudden interest 
(under the influence of Jehoshaphat) in Yahweh's blessing, and he 
rebuffs him with the question ^71 '/"HJD, "what to me and to you," 
translated by the LXX, xi euoi Kai aoi. In the context the sense is 
obviously something like "why should I help you?" even though NIV 
translates less acceptably, "what do we have to do with each other?" 

But the most interesting thing is that this phrase is exactly what 
Jesus said to his mother in John 2:4, when she informed him that the 
wedding feast at Cana had run out of wine. He probably replied in 
Hebrew (some would say, Aramaic), 17 but the Greek of John is xi 
suoi Kai aoi. The KJV "what have I to do with you?", though it is an 
attempt to translate idiomatically, has always seemed abrasive, 
especially when followed by the epithet "woman," a most impolite 
name to use in direct address to one's own mother in English. In light 
of Jesus' further explanation, outto fjicei f) copa uou, "my time has not 
yet come," it is probably best to translate Jesus' reply in this context 

TEV: "I'm not stopping you." 

The literature supporting the speaking of Hebrew alongside Aramaic during the 
first century is extensive. For a partial listing, see J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of New 
Testament Greek, vol. 4: Style, by Nigel Turner (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1976) 10. 
See particularly J. M. Grintz, "Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the 
Last Days of the Second Temple," JBL 79 (1960) 32-47, in which he argues that 
Mishnaic Hebrew, not Aramaic would have been the spoken language at this time. 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idioms 201 

something like "how can I help you nowV or "why should I help you 
rcow?" In contrast to its translation of the OT occurrence in 2 Kgs 
3:13, "what do we have to do with each other?" (also in a context of a 
request for help), the NIV translates John 2:4, "'Dear woman, why 
do you involve me?'" This is not only more polite, but more 
idiomatic, and is certainly acceptable. Many will be more comfortable 
with this than TEV's (equally supportable) "You must not tell me 
what to do." 

In each case the translations from NIV and TEV and the others 
suggested retain the two essential elements found in either the He- 
brew "?J71 ""ytlli or the Greek xi euoi Kai aoi: (1) a statement of some 
kind of relationship between the speaker and the addressee ("to me 
and to you"); and (2) a question of the propriety of the request. The 
rest must be supplied if the English is to make any sense at all, and 
what is supplied is admittedly interpretive. But then anyone who has 
done very much translation knows that interpretation is an essential 
part of the task. One cannot translate without asking two essential 
questions: (1) What does this mean in the source language? and 
(2) How does one convey this same meaning in the receptor language? 
And as soon as one asks one or both of these questions he is involved 
in interpretation. This is the reason that "neutral translation" is a 
myth: one cannot be neutral and work with meaning. Again, it is not 
a question of whether to interpret in translation, but how much and 
how well. 

"Verily, verily" 

There has always been a certain fascination with the difficulty of 
translating either the single durjv, "verily," or the double durjv, &ut]v, 
"verily, verily." Even TEV's "I am telling you the truth" lacks 
idiomatic flavor, to say nothing of NASB's "truly, truly" and NIV's "I 
tell you the truth." And LB's "what I am telling you so earnestly is 
this" misses the mark even more. 

Perhaps it is helpful to begin with the usage of the Hebrew words 
and follow the transliteration duiiv through the LXX into NT times. 

Hebrew and LXX. Related to the verbal root JOK, the Hebrew 
adverb |??X is used in the OT in several different ways. There are, first 
of all, places where it is a part of a statement by an individual or a 

Num 5:22. In the context of the test of the woman accused by 
her husband of unfaithfulness, upon the pronouncement of the curse 
upon her by the priest, the woman is to say f&N ]7?X, "amen, amen," 
best translated, "so be it" (NIV), as the LXX does with the familiar 
Tevoixo, yevouo, "let it be, let it be." 


Deut 27:15-26. This passage includes 12 uses of the single fftN, 
where it is the answer of the people to the curses pronounced on Mt. 
Ebal. In this religious context of audience response it is properly 
translated "Amen!" as an interjection of hearty assent or formal 
confession. Again, the LXX translates not &uii.v, but Tevoixo. 

1 Kgs 1:36. The answer of Benaiah son of Jehoiada to King 
David, when he announced the appointment of Solomon to the 
throne, was ]7?N, which in this context might be translated "Amen!" 
but is perhaps better rendered "so be it! " since it is not in a religious 
context and is not a congregational response. In contemporary 
English (outside of slang and jokes) "Amen!" is normally reserved for 
a religious setting or congregational response (by both Christians and 
Jews). The LXX translates here with Tevoito. 

Jer 11:5. In this context of the curses for disobedience and 
blessings for obedience Jeremiah's response to the LORD is |ftN, 
"Amen!" Considering that it is a direct address to Yahweh, it would 
be considered idiomatic English to translate it in this manner. LXX 
again translates rsvotxo. 

Jer 28:6. In response to the prophecy of the false prophet 
Hananiah that the LORD would bring back the temple furniture, 
Jehoiakim, and all the other exiles within two years, Jeremiah 
answers, iTirP niPJP |3 |EX, "Amen! May the Lord do so!" to show 
that the result would be desirable even though it will not actually 
happen. The incident is not recorded by the LXX. 

Ps 41:14. The word here occurs once again in a religious context 
of audience response, and so it is rightly translated, "Amen! Amen!" 
Here the LXX translates yevouo, yevoiTo (40:14). The same is done 
with Ps 72:19 (LXX 71:19), Ps 89:53 (LXX 88:53); and Ps 106:48 
(LXX 105:48). 

Neh 5:13. Similar congregational responses are found in Neh 
5:13 and 8:6, where the LXX translates for the first time by dur)v 
(2Esdr 15:13 and 18:6). 

1 Chr 16:36. The final passage in this category is also a congrega- 
tional response and is rightly translated "Amen!" Here the LXX 
continues its translation &ur|v for fftN. 18 

The other category of uses of JDX concerns only Isa 65:16, where 
it is used in connection with the construct Tl^N, and thus is to be 

Interestingly, Symmachus translates JftX by tiutiv instead of yevono in Num 
5:22, Deut 27:15, Ps 40:13 (41:13), Ps 71:19(72^19), Ps 88:53 (89:53), Isa 65:16, and Jer 
11:5. Theodotion translates similarly in Deut 27:15. 'Aufjv also appears in the LXX 
translation of some Apocryphal books. In 1 Esdr 9:46 it is in the context of audience 
response; in Tob 8:8 an exclamation of mutual consent when Tobit is taking a wife; 
and in Tob 14:15, 3 Mace 7:23, and 4 Mace 18:24 as the ending of a book (as it is 
frequently in the NT). For the text of each of these, see A POT, in loc. 

fields: metaphors, similes and other idiom 203 

translated "the true God," followed by the LXX, xov 0edv tov 
d?ir|0iv6v, "the true God." 19 

A little-used corresponding adverb is HJEN II, 20 "truly, indeed," 
used in Gen 20:12 and Josh 7:20. The syntax of Gen 20:12 corre- 
sponds more nearly to the usage in the NT, and in this case should be 
translated something like "really" (NIV), which also corresponds to 
the LXX ctA.r|0(3(;. Josh 7:20 is similarly an asseveration in which 
Achan confesses his sin by answering H379N, "Right!" or "It is true!" 
(NIV). Here the LXX again uses dXr)0(5<;. 

Finally, there are two other related adverbs. D3pN, "indeed?" is 
used five times in the OT, always in questions, 21 and Q3??N is used 
nine times, always in asseverations. 22 In the case of the former the 
LXX translates by d>.r|0(3<;, "really," and dvxcoc;, "really," and in the 
latter case it translates by d?ir)0£ia, "truth," Kpiatc;, "justice," erca, 
"then, indeed," and &>.r|0(Dc;, "really." The LXX translators, thus, 
correctly used a variety of terms for these adverbs, as, indeed, any 
translator must do if he hopes to convey meaning. 

Classical Greek. Liddell and Scott do not list any uses of dur)v 
outside the Greek OT and NT, and gloss the word as a "Hebrew 
adverb." 23 This seems to indicate that the NT usage is therefore a 
Hebraism, built partly on some uses in the LXX, and built partly on 
the proclivity toward transliteration of religiously emotive words — 
witnessed by the unbroken tradition of simply transliterating the 
word from Hebrew through to English. 

NT usage of d/irjv. The usage of a\ir\v in the NT is primarily a 
reflection of the Semitic background of the speakers and writers. As a 
single word dur|v appears in statements only in the Gospels, except 
where it is used as a proper name for Christ in Revelation. Elsewhere 
in the NT the single dur^v appears at the end of a statement or prayer, 
somewhat analogous to contemporary usage of "Amen" at the end of 
a hymn. As a repetition, duiiv, durjv, it appears only in the gospel of 
John. A survey of its usage in the gospels indicates that it usually 
appears at the emphatic point in a narrative. Sometimes it implies an 
oath (as in the LXX), and should be translated in such a way that it 
calls attention to the veracity of the statement (e.g., Matt 10:5). 
Sometimes it is simply a climax (or attention) marker, however, and 

BDB, 52-53; KB, 60-61. Its usage in Mishnaic Hebrew is basically the same as 
Biblical Hebrew, but Jastrow does not list any uses in Aramaic (Jastrow, Dictionary, 
1.77, 78). 

20 BDB, 53. 

21 Ibid. 

22 Ibid, 53-54. 

23 LSJ, 82. 


since such a marker is seldom used in written English, it may 
sometimes simply be left out of a good translation. Where it is 
possible to include it in idiomatic translation, there are a number of 
possibilities, and the phrase which best fits the context should be 
chosen in each individual instance. Some of the possibilities are: "to 
be honest with you," "I want to make one thing perfectly clear" 
(though the political overtones of that may make it presently un- 
acceptable), "frankly," "actually," "truthfully," "to tell the truth," "in 
plain language," "without mincing words," "look!" and "listen!" 

Thus, in the case of John 3:3, where Jesus is trying to indicate to 
Nicodemus both the truthfulness and the seriousness of the fact that 
one must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God, it is 
probably best to use something more idiomatic, and therefore more 
accurate, such as "frankly," (if one prefers one word) or "without 
mincing words" (if one prefers a phrase). 


Live and dead metaphors and similes and other idioms in the 
Bible are not easy to translate. Yet if one admits that the task of the 
translator is to convey the meaning of the source language into the 
receptor language without additions or deletions in meaning in such a 
way that the response evoked in the receptors approximates as closely 
as possible the response originally evoked, he must inasmuch as 
possible translate these figures idiomatically. There are acceptable 
principles to use to achieve this kind of meaningful translation, and if 
these principles are used the quality of the translation will be en- 
hanced and the communication of the Word of God accomplished 
more fully. 


Charles R. Smith 

The thesis of this essay is that exegesis and theology have been 
plagued by the tendency of Greek scholars and students to make their 
field of knowledge more esoteric, recondite, and occult than is 
actually the case. There is an innate human inclination to attempt to 
impress people with the hidden secrets which only the truly initiated 
can rightly understand or explain. Nowhere is this more evident than 
in the plethora of arcane labels assigned to the aorist tense in its 
supposed classifications and significations. Important theological dis- 
tinctions are often based on the tense and presented with all the 
authority that voice or pen can muster. It is here proposed that the 
aorist tense (like many other grammatical features) should be "de- 
mythologized" and simply recognized for what it is — the standard 
verbal aspect employed for naming or labeling an act or event. As 
such, apart from its indications of time relationships, it is exegetically 
insignificant: (I) It does not necessarily refer to past time; (2) It neither 
identifies nor views action as punctiliar; (3) It does not indicate once- 
for-all action; (4) It does not designate the kind of action; (5) It is not 
the opposite of a present, imperfect, or perfect; (6) It does not occur 
in classes or kinds; and, (7) It may describe any action or event. 


In 1972 Frank Stagg performed yeoman service in publishing an 
article titled "The Abused Aorist." 1 A number of the illustrations 
referred to in the following discussion are taken from his article. His 
was not the first voice, however, nor the last, to be raised in objection 
to the disservice rendered to this most useful servant in the Greek 
tense system. But the warnings have largely gone unheeded. 

During a recent automobile trip the author listened to two 
successive sermons (one on tape and one on radio) in which an aorist 

'Frank Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," JBL (1972) 222-31. 


tense was grossly perverted in "proving" a point of theological conten- 
tion. In the first case, a well-known and gifted pastor argued that the 
use of an aorist form of the verb vim© ("wash") in John 13:8 
proves that the footwashing by Jesus symbolized the once-for-all 
washing of salvation rather than the subsequent daily cleansing! This 
was in spite of the unmentioned fact that the same logic would require 
that people who have bathed need never to wash their feet but once 
thereafter (aorist in v 10). The second message argued that Jesus did 
not die spiritually for our sins because the aorist tense of the verb 
dt7io6vr|OK(D ("died") in 1 Cor 15:3 refers only to a single act of dying! 

Such abuses would be humorous were it not for the fact that they 
are presented and received with such sincere conviction as the basis 
for significant theological assertions. Greek grammarians would 
instantly recognize the fallacies of the illustrations cited and have 
often spoken out against errors of this type. It is therefore quite 
surprising to find genuine scholars who may in one place legitimately 
describe the aorist tense, yet in another place misuse it in a manner 
not greatly different from the illustrations just cited. It is not sur- 
prising that student term papers, theses, and dissertations are often 
influenced by confusion in the grammars and commentaries. 

The following discussion will briefly define the aorist tense and 
then respond to a number of the most common misrepresentations of 
its significance. 


Unlike other grammatical terms, which are often ambiguous, the 
term aorist is an explicit and ideal grammatical term. A Greek 
'present' tense does not always indicate present time — we have futur- 
istic presents, historic presents, customary presents, and others. Like- 
wise, the terms 'imperfect' and 'perfect' are not perfect. But like the 
term 'future,' the term 'aorist' is perfectly descriptive. No single aspect 
of the present tense is inviolable. Just as it does not always indicate 
present time, so it does not always indicate process. But the aorist 
tense is invariable — all aorists are aoristicl 

In the matter of 'aspect' the purpose of the aorist is to be 
invisible. The term means "no boundary," "without horizon," "non- 
specific," "noncommittal," "indefinite," etc. The whole point of the 
aorist is to refrain from saying anything about the nature of the 
action. As Chamberlain said, the word means "I do not define." 

Grammarians generally agree that the aorist represents the most 
basic form of the Greek verb, employing the oldest and simplest stem 

2 William Douglas Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New 
Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1960) 67. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 207 

form. Due to contemporary lexicographical methodology it would be 
impracticable but one could almost wish that Greek students could 
learn the aorist form of verbs first in order to entrench the basic 
concept of the verbal idea apart from an emphasis on time or aspect. 
Other tenses should be recognized as for the purpose of adding time 
or aspect considerations. As it relates to the matter of aspect, the 
aorist is transparent, it leaves the verbal idea 'naked' by adding 
nothing to the basic vocabulary concept. It merely labels or titles the 

Since, in the familiar words of Broadus, Greek is "an aorist 
loving language," 3 it is essential that the tense be stripped of its 
mythological accretions. 


The aorist is essentially, though not entirely, timeless. This is, of 
course, obvious in all but the indicative. Except for the participles it 
is mostly futuristic in its unaugmented forms. It hardly seems neces- 
sary to belabor this point, but on the part of some who do not use 
Greek regularly there is still a tendency to overemphasize the time 
aspect, and on the part of some scholars there is a tendency to 
overstate the case and remove all time considerations from the aorist. 

Examples of accuracy 

A. T. Robertson averred that "If one gets it into his head that the 
root idea of tense is time, he may never get it out and he will therefore 
never understand the beauty of the Greek tense, the most wonderful 
development in the history of language." 4 

Chamberlain states that "The student should disabuse his mind at 
once of the notion that the primary idea of tense in the Greek verb is 
time." 5 

3 Quoted in A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light 
of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 831. 

4 In his Introduction to Davis' grammar (William Hersey Davis, Beginner's 
Grammar of the Greek New Testament [New York: Harper & Row, 1923] viii). The 
remark suggesting that the Greek tense system is the "most wonderful development in 
the history of language" was included in the above quotation to provide me with an 
opportunity to respond briefly to this unrealistic adoration of the Greek language. 
Greek teachers have often described Greek as "more expressive," especially in its 
tenses, than other languages. But the fact that God has revealed himself via this 
language does not make it a holy language, or a perfect language. God also revealed 
himself, infallibly, by means of Hebrew and Aramaic. Any well-developed modern 
language such as English, French, German, Spanish, etc., can express anything that 
Greek has expressed, though not by the same grammatical and semantic devices. Greek 
should not be worshipped. 

5 Chamberlain, Grammar, 67. 


Examples of inaccuracy 

All Greek grammarians adequately warn against viewing the 
aorist as primarily tense -related, but it is not uncommon to find 
overstatements of this matter. Dana and Mantey affirm, for example, 
that "it has no essential temporal significance, its time relations being 
found only in the indicative" (emphasis added). 6 In the definition 
given above it was clearly noted that it is in the area of aspect that the 
aorist adds nothing to the vocabulary concept. The aorist does 
commonly add time considerations in the indicative and also in its 
participial forms. Though aorist participles do not indicate tense in 
themselves, they do have special time relationships with the leading 
verb or the time of the context. The majority of aorist participles 
indicate time antecedent to the leading verb. 

Biblical examples 

Even in the indicative, time is not intrinsic to the aorist tense. 
The following are examples of biblical texts which employ aorist 
indicatives in ways that do not designate past events — they are 
essentially timeless. 

"In you I am well pleased" (euSoKrioa, Mark 1:11). 

"Now is the Son of Man glorified" (eSo^daGr), John 13:31). 

"In this is my Father glorified" (eSo^tioGri, John 15:8). 

"Wisdom is justified by all her children" (e8iKaid)9r|, Luke 7:35). 

"The grass withers" (s^n.ptiv9r|, 1 Pet 1:24). 

All of these examples appear to be timeless in their connotations 
and they adequately demonstrate that the aorist, even in its indicative 
forms, need not refer to past time. 


The examples just cited under the previous heading should also 
adequately refute this misconception, but a few additional comments 
may prove helpful. 

Examples of accuracy 

Stagg has succinctly noted that the aorist views the action 
"without reference to duration, interruption, completion, or anything 
else. . . . The aorist can be properly used to cover any kind of action: 
single or multiple, momentary or extended, broken or unbroken, 
completed or open-ended'''' (emphasis added). 7 

H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New 
Testament (Toronto: Macmillan, 1927) 193. 
7 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 223. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 209 

Dana and Mantey object to Blass' identification of the aorist as 
the tense "which denotes completion," and observe that "the aorist 
signifies nothing as to completeness." Unfortunately they add the 
unedifying comment that it "simply presents the action as attained." 8 
Davis asserts that "it does not distinguish between complete or 
incomplete action." 9 

Examples of inaccuracy 

Summers states that "the aorist indicates finished action in past 
time." Though he is referring to the aorist indicative, a point which 
many grammarians are not always careful to note, it is still not true that 
the aorist indicates finished or complete action — not even in the 

McKay provides helpful insight into the significance of the tenses 
but then proceeds to misrepresent and misuse the aorist. With regard 
to the statement that Judas sinned (fjuapxov, Matt 27:4), he asserts 
that the "past time reference is unimportant: that it is aorist aspect, 
referring to the action as complete, is all important." 11 To the 
contrary, the past time reference as indicated by the augmented form 
and the context is more important than any nonexistent intimation 
about the nature of the event. 

Biblical examples 

Only a few examples need be cited to demonstrate that aorist 
tenses (of any mood) need not designate completed actions. 

"Death reigned through one man" (ePaaiXeuoev, Rom 5:17). 

"Guard yourselves from idols" ((puM^axe, 1 John 5:21). 

"That he might show in the coming ages the exceeding riches of 
his grace" (evSei^njai, Eph 2:7). 

See also the examples under the previous heading. It should be 
apparent that while an aorist may be used with reference to a 
completed action, the tense itself does not indicate or imply this. 


The term "punctiliar" is not only one of the most misunderstood 
of grammatical terms but also one of the most inappropriate. No 
grammatical feature can indicate a "punctiliar act," though vocabu- 
lary and context can readily do so. 

8 Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 193-94. 
Davis, Grammar, 78. 

Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman, 
1950) 55-56. 

"K. L. McKay, "Syntax in Exegesis," Tyndale Bulletin 23 (1972) 55-56. 


Scholars are quick to point out that the term "punctiliar" must 
be "properly understood." Stagg, for example, notes that "Careful 
grammarians make it clear that the punctiliar idea belongs to the 
writer's manner of presentation and not necessarily to the action 
itself." 12 He proceeds to defend Moulton's and Robertson's use of the 
term "punctiliar" as describing the way the action is viewed and not 
the action itself, 13 and explains that the aorist is "punctiliar only in 
the sense that the action is viewed without reference to duration, 
interruption, completion, or anything else." 14 If language means 
anything, this says that the aorist is not punctiliar at all — especially 
not in the way it views (or states, or regards) the action! This 
terminology mars Stagg 's otherwise excellent discussion. The aorist 
neither designates nor even "views" the action as punctiliar. It does 
not view it in any way! It merely labels (names, titles) the action. For 
Robertson to state that "the 'constative' aorist treats an act as 
punctiliar which is not in itself point-action," is to deny what he 
earlier affirms in identifying the aorist as meaning "un- defined" 
(emphasis added). 15 The aorist does not "treat," "view," "regard," or 
"state" the action as punctiliar or anything else. Its very purpose is to 
refrain from doing so. 

Examples of accuracy 

According to Dana and Mantey, the aorist "states the fact of the 
action or event without regard to its duration." 16 Burton declares that 
it "represents the action denoted by it indefinitely, i.e., simply as an 
event, neither on the one hand picturing it in progress, nor on the 
other affirming the existence of its result. The name indefinite as thus 
understood is therefore applicable to the tense in all of its uses." 1 
Machen demonstrates admirable restraint in avoiding the term "punc- 
tiliar" and identifies the imperfect as pointing to continued or re- 
peated action whereas the aorist is a "simple assertion of the act." 18 
Wenham, unfortunately immediately after an invalid identification of 
the aorist as "a punctiliar (or point) tense," clearly states that "the 

12 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 222. 
l3 Ibid., 225, 229. 
'"Ibid., 223. 

''Robertson, Grammar, 824, 31-32. 
Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 193. 

Ernest DeWitt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament 
Greek (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1900) 16. 

J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners (Toronto: Macmillan, 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 211 

action of the verb is thought of as simply happening, without any 
regard to its continuance or frequency." 19 

Examples of inaccuracy 

Quotations here must of necessity be selective since almost every 
standard grammar may be faulted at this point — even those which in 
other contexts clearly state the matter. For example, in his next 
sentence after saying that the aorist regards action as undefined, 
Chamberlain unfortunately adds, "The common term for this is 
punctiliar action." 20 Whether or not it is the common term is not the 
point. The action need not be punctiliar and an aorist does not even 
view it as such — it merely names the act involved. 

Conversation with Greek teachers will generally indicate a high 
degree of defensiveness with regard to any objections to such tradi- 
tional terminology as "punctiliar." It is regularly insisted that the 
grammarians rightly distinguished between the nature of the event 
and the fact that an aorist is merely looking at an event "as a 
whole" — the latter being identified as a "punctiliar view." The re- 
sponse is threefold: (1) It is not being argued that all grammarians 
have misunderstood the aorist (Note the quotations, throughout this 
article, under the headings "Examples of accuracy"); (2) It is asserted 
that the term "punctiliar" is a misleading and inappropriate term to 
describe the fact that an aorist merely names an act without reference 
to its duration; and (3) Nearly all the grammars may be validly 
charged, at least with inconsistency, in that in their illustrations they 
interpret aorists as indicating "single acts," "particular occasions," 
and "fixed," "momentary," or even "instantaneous" events. If this be 
defended as a kind of "grammatical shorthand," meaning that the 
aorist in a particular context may point to such actions, it is re- 
sponded that it is not the tense which indicates these matters and it is 
inexcusable to confuse students by such inaccurate "shorthand." 

Dana and Mantey state that the aorist "presents the action or 
event as a 'point,' and hence is called 'punctiliar,'" 21 and "the play is 
entirely upon whether the action is punctiliar — viewed as a single 
whole — or whether it is the opposite, continuous or repeated." On 
this basis they affirm that the aorist clause in 1 John 2: 1 , 'iva ur) 
&udpTr)T£, means "in order that you won't ever commit an act of 

J. W. Wenham, The Elements of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University, 1965) 96. 

20 Chamberlain, Grammar, 67. 
'Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 194. 
22 Ibid., 195. 


sin." 23 This error has been perpetuated in scores of commentaries and 
sermons, in spite of the fact that all that John did was tell his readers 
what he wanted them to avoid, namely, sin. The number of acts of sin 
should not enter the picture merely on the basis of an aorist tense. 

Hale states that "the chief emphasis is on the point-like quality of 
the action." 24 Godet wrote that the aorist £X0T], "shall have come," 
in 1 Cor 13:10, must allude "to a fixed and positively expected 
moment, which can be no other than that of the Advent." 25 Moule 
goes so far as to state that the chief function of an aorist "is to 
indicate an action viewed as instantaneous" (emphasis added). 
Dodd says that "the aorist forms express momentary or occasional 
action."' With regard to the verb "entered" in Rom 5:12, Mickelsen 
remarks that "the tense of the verb indicates a distinct historic 
entrance." 28 One must respond that this concept comes from the 
meaning of the verb itself since it is difficult to have an entrance 
which is not distinct and not historical. 

Robertson states that "the tense of itself always means point- 
action." 29 Summers says bluntly that "the kind of action is punc- 
tiliar." 30 One should note that these last statements refer to the action 
as punctiliar. It is an improvement to refer to the action as only being 
viewed in a punctiliar sense, but even this is a misrepresentation of 
the aorist. It should be added that attempts to represent the aorist as 
a "dot," in contrast to the representation of the linear tenses by a line 
or series of dots, are misleading at best. 

Biblical examples 

Literally hundreds of examples could be listed to show that the 
aorist does not indicate, or even necessarily view, the action as 
punctiliar. Of course it may be used of a "punctiliar" event, but the 
use of the aorist does not prove this fact. 


24 Clarence B. Hale, Let's Study Greek (Chicago: Moody, 1957) 32. 
Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians (reprinted; Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1977) 680. 

" 6 C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University, 1968) 10. 

C. H. Dodd, The Johannine Epistles (The Moffat New Testament Commentary; 
London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1946) 78. 

28 A. Berkeley Mickelsen, "The Epistle to the Romans," The Wycliffe Bible 
Commentary (ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison; Chicago: Moody, 
1962) 1197. 

" Robertson, Grammar, 835. 

"Summers, Essentials, 66. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 213 

"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed" 
(i)7TT|KouaaT8, Phil 2:12). 

"Look at the birds of heaven" (t[i^Xe\\iaxe, Matt 6:26). 

"He remained a whole two years" (eveueivev, Acts 28:30). 

"Do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?'" (uepiuvrjoT|T£ 
and cpdycouev, Matt 6:31). 

"If we forgive men their trespasses" (dcpfjxe, Matt 6:14). 

"But you, whenever you pray" (npooe^xw, Matt 6:6). 

"The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat" (eKtiGioav, Matt 

Again it should be noted that all the examples cited under the 
preceding heading are also applicable here. 

Contrary to Moulton and Robertson, the aorist is not "punctiliar 
in statement" (nor in fact, as they admit). 31 It is noncommittal in 
statement. It refrains from viewing action as either linear or punc- 
tiliar. It abstains. 


This aspect of "theology in the aorist tense" 32 has been criticized 
so often that one almost feels like he is "beating a dead horse" by 
even bringing up the subject. But the "horse" refuses to stay dead! 

Examples of accuracy 

All the statements which were quoted in objecting to the aorist as 
indicating completed or punctiliar action would also be appropriate 
here. Indeed, the once-for-all theory is just a "hyper-punctiliar" view 
and very few of the standard grammars deal directly with the 
terminology. (Of those examined for this study, only Turner misused 
it. See below.) After objecting to Law's assertion that the aorists in 
1 John 1:1 must refer to "a definite occasion," 33 Stagg responds, "It is 
fallacious to argue from the grammatical aorist to a historical singu- 
larity." 34 Likewise he notes that "Turner misleads when he finds 
necessarily a 'once and for all' in the aorist imperative." 35 

Examples of inaccuracy 

In his commentary on Revelation, Charles states that the aorists 
8KTiGac; ("created") in 4:11 and eviKrioev ("overcame") in 5:5 each 

'Moulton, quoted and approved in Robertson, Grammar, 832. 
32 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 222. 

"Robert Law, The Tests of Life (3d ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker, n.d.) 47. 
34 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 226. 
"Ibid., 230-31. 


indicate "one definite act" which was "once-for-all." 36 This statement 
is probably true except that this is not shown by the aorist tense, but 
by word meaning, context, and other revelation. 

Ryrie builds a theological point on the aorists of Rom 6:13b 
and 12: 1. Because the aorist "does not present the action as a series of 
repeated events . . . , the presentation of body is a single, irrevocable 
act of surrender rather than a series of repeated acts of dedication." 
Walvoord makes the same error by stating that the aorist in 6:13b 
means, "Present yourself to God once and for all." 38 But neither 
grammar nor theology suggests any such limitation on these verbs. 
One might just as well argue that just as the Jews presented morning 
and evening sacrifices, so the believer should present himself to God 
both morning and evening. Is it dishonoring for a Christian who has 
failed (as all do) to present himself anew? (In reality, as long as men 
are sinners, no presentation can be a once-for-all presentation!) But 
frequency is not the point. Only the fact of presentation is at issue. 

In his commentary on Revelation, Morris often refers to aorists 
as indicating once-for-all action. One example is usiavorioov ("re- 
pent") in 3:19. 39 But as Stagg notes, Morris fails to explain how the 
word noiriaov ("do the first works," 2:5) may be taken as a once-for- 
all aorist. 40 

In commenting on the aorist stu0t| in 1 Cor 5:7, which refers 
to the fact that Christ was sacrificed for us, Johnson states that 
the aorist tense is "looking at the event as a once-for-all thing." 41 It is 
true that the verse is looking at a once-for-all event, but even with an 
imperfect tense the same would be true! (To say that Christ "was 
dying" for us would still point to the once-for-all event at the cross.) 
But the statement implies that this significance is because of the aorist 
tense and is therefore misleading at best. Such lack of precision has 
fostered the confusion which has led scholars like Francis Schaeffer 
to affirm that "the Greek aorist is a once-for-all past tense." 

R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. 
John (ICC; 2 vols; New York: Scribner's, 1920), 1. 134-35. 

"Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life (Chicago: Moody, 1969) 79. 
John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (3d ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1954) 197. 

Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John (The Tyndale New Testament Com- 
mentaries; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 84. 
40 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 227. 

41 S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., "The First Epistle to the Corinthians," The Wycliffe Bible 
Commentary (ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison; Chicago: Moody, 
1962) 1237. 

Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1972) 165. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 215 

A friend recently argued that the aorist imperative in the plural, 
"Greet one another with a holy kiss" (1 Cor 16:20, in contrast with 
the three earlier present tense forms of the same verb), proves that 
Paul was not commanding a general practice but only a conveyance 
of his personal greetings. My friend's interpretation may be correct, 
but it cannot be proved by the aorist tense! 

Biblical examples 

Again, all the biblical examples previously cited are also appli- 
cable under this heading. In addition, none of the following refer to 
once-for-all actions. 

"They loved not their lives unto death" {x\y&tvc\ozv, Rev 12:11). 

"What you heard from the beginning" CnKouaaie, 1 John 2:24). 

"Trade until I come" (TrpayuatEuaaaGe, Luke 19:13). 

"Jesus . . . went about doing good" (SifjTiGsv, Acts 10:38). 

"The promise which He promised us [many times], life eternal" 
(£7rr|YY£i^aT0, 1 John 2:25). 

"Five times I received thirty-nine stripes" (eX.a|3ov) . . . three 
times I was beaten with rods (eppaf35ia6r|v) . . . three times I was 
shipwrecked" (evaudyr|aa, 2 Cor 11:24-25). 

"For all [seven] had her" (ea^ov, Matt 22:28). 

"Holy Father, keep them, in your name"(rnpr|o-ov, John 17:11). 

"They lived and reigned a thousand years (eC,r\oav and efiaGi^eu- 
aev, Rev 20:4). 

"All the time in which Jesus went in and went out among us" 
(eioTJMtev and e£fjA.0£v, Acts 1:21). 

"Wherefore that field is called 'Field of Blood' until this day" 
(8KArj0r|, Matt 27:8). 

"For all have sinned and fall short" (fjuapiov, Rom 3:23). 


The truthfulness of this assertion should be adequately demon- 
strated by the very fact that the grammar books have divided the 
aorist into various "kinds" or categories (e.g., constative or indefi- 
nite; ingressive or inceptive; culminative, effective or resultative; 
gnomic; epistolary; dramatic; etc.). But, amazingly, it is necesary to 
fight an uphill battle against the grammarians at this point. Even 
though it contradicts what they say elsewhere, almost with one voice 
they proclaim that the "fundamental idea of the kind of action 
involved" is the "one essential idea" in the Greek system of tenses. 43 

43 Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 293. 


Examples of accuracy 

Near the turn of the century Moulton popularized the German 
term "aktionsart" in describing the fundamental concept in the Greek 
tenses. The term is normally translated "kind of action," and as such 
it has produced all kinds of interpretive errors. As noted under the 
previous heading, even when "kind of action" is understood as 
meaning "way in which action is being viewed," the term misrepre- 
sents the aorist. McKay writes, "In common with most English- 
speaking classical scholars, I prefer to use another label, 'aspect,' for 
what is referred to is not the kind of action, but the way in which the 
writer or speaker regards the action in its context — as a whole act, as 
a process, or as a state" (emphasis added). The term "aspect" is 
certainly an advance over "aktionsart" (or "kind of action") in refer- 
ring to the aorist. But to define the aorist aspect as looking at the 
action in any way is to deny its basic noncommittal significance. As 
McKay himself later notes, the proper aspect of the aorist is "un- 
defined," 45 It does not "look at" the action as any particular kind of 
action. His three aspects would better be named a "labeling" aspect, a 
"process" aspect, and a "state" aspect. 

As Stagg has stated, "the presence of the aorist does not in itself 
give any hint as to the nature of the action behind it." 46 

Examples of inaccuracy 

Davis incorrectly affirms that "the fundamental idea in tense is 
the 'kind of action."" 47 Chamberlain makes an essentially identical 
statement but then contradicts it by correctly stating that the aorist 
regards the action as undefined, as "a-opiaxoc;, from dopi^co, 'I do not 
define.'" 48 

The most extreme statements are those made by Moule. Under 
the heading "Aktionsart," he states that the primary consideration to 
the Greek mind was "the nature of the event," "the kind of action." 
Here there is not even a pretext about how the action is viewed, but 
an explicit connection with the actual nature of the act! 

Summers says of the aorist that "The kind of action is punc- 
tiliar." But as everyone should know by now, the aorist does not tell 
anything about the kind of action. 

McKay, "Syntax in Exegesis," 44. 
5 Ibid., 47. 

6 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 231. 
7 Davis, Grammar, 78. 

Chamberlain, Grammar, 67. 
9 Moule, Idiom-Book, 5. 
°Summers, Essentials, 66. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 217 

Perhaps this is the most appropriate place to note that some 
grammarians have used the term "aktionsart" with reference to the 
stem (verb root) idea rather than, or in addition to, any reference to 
the tense idea. Chamberlain, 51 Davis and Robertson, 52 and Moule 53 
furnish examples of this. This approach has more to commend it than 
the attempts to link aktionsart with the aorist tense itself, but as 
Moule is forced to conclude, "Many fascinating exceptions and 
modifications . . . present themselves." 54 

Biblical examples 

Probably the best way to establish the point at issue is simply to 
cite several aorists which describe distinctly different kinds of action. 

Heb 1 1 :5 refers to the action of many individuals over many years: 
"These all died in faith" (&7re0avov). 

Acts 5:10 tells of an "instantaneous" single act: "Immediately she 
fell at his feet" (£7reaov). 

Eph 2:2 refers to a "continuous past action: "In which you 
used to walk according to the way of this world" (7repi£7taTTiaaT£). 

A number of references indicate indefinite future repetitions: 
"whenever you see a cloud rising . . ."('i8r|T£, Luke 12:54); "Greet one 
another with a holy kiss" (daTidoaoGe, Rom 16:16). Compare this 
latter illustration with the single occasion greetings employing the 
identical verb, e.g., "Greet Rufus" (Rom 16:13). 

Other passages present what may be called general "policy" 
statements: "If you greet only your brothers ..." (aondor\oQe, Matt 
5:47); "If you do not watch . . ." (ypriyopTioTjc;, Rev 3:3). 


With the possible exception of the once-for-all mistakes, this is 
probably the area of most confusion with regard to the aorist. It is 
commonly assumed that aorist tense verbs appear in a context for the 
purpose of establishing a contrast with, or even denying, what is 
affirmed by the other tenses. But, as should be evident from the 
foregoing discussion, this is plainly not the case. The aorist tense is 
never in contrast with the other tenses. It cannot be, for it does not 
assert anything! It merely refrains from affirming what they may 
imply. It is thus general and all-inclusive, rather than specific and 
exclusive or contrasting. 

Chamberlain, Grammar, 69. 

Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 295. 
53 Moule, Idiom-Book, 5-6. 
54 Ibid., 6. 


Examples of accuracy 

It is embarrassing to admit the difficulty in finding accurate 
statements comparing the Greek tenses. The standard grammars 
almost all, at one time or another, succumb to the tendency to draw 
unnecessary contrasts. The most nearly consistent discussion available 
to this writer is that by Stagg. In properly responding to Dodd's 
differentiation between the imperfect and the aorist he notes that the 
common distinction "holds almost always for the imperfect but not for 
the aorist." 55 Later he remarks that "The aorist may cover a specific 
act, but it may also cover repeated or extended acts; and other tenses 
also may cover specific acts." 56 He also points out that the aorist is 
used with the phrase dn' dp^fjc; ("from the beginning") in 1 John 2:24 
(r^Kouoaxe), and the present is used with the same phrase in 3:8 
(duapidvei). 7 

Examples of inaccuracy 

Dana and Mantey state that Greek writers were instinctively and 
"acutely conscious of the distinctive force of each tense in expressing 
the state of an action. The play is entirely upon whether the action is 
punctiliar — viewed as a single whole — or whether it is the opposite, 
continuous or repeated" (emphasis added). 58 This is certainly an 
overstatement. An aorist never affirms the fact of continuous or 
repeated action, as a present may do in certain contexts, but it is not 
the "'opposite'" of a present — it never denies or stands in contrast with 
what the present implies. The key proof cited by Dana and Mantey 59 is 
the variant reading in John 10:38 (iva yvaJxe Kai yivc6aKT|T8, "that 
you might know and keep on knowing." Jesus' point, however, may 
simply be paraphrased, "I want you to know, and also to keep on 
knowing." There is no contrast; the present only elaborates — it adds 
to what the aorist says. 

It is absolutely invalid to affirm that "The aorist infinitive denotes 
that which is eventual or particular while the present infinitive 
indicates a condition or process." 60 Dana and Mantey assert that "Thus 
TuoTeuoai is to exercise faith on a given occasion, while Tuaxeueiv is 
to be a believer." 61 This, of course, contradicts their own statements 

Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 224. 

Ibid., 225. See also Stagg 's important correction of Law's misuse of the aorist in 
contrast with the perfect. Ibid., 226-27. 
"Ibid.. 226. 

Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 195. 
59 Ibid. 

60 Ibid., 199. 
6, Ibid. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 219 

that an aorist speaks "without reference to progress," 62 "or dura- 
tion," 63 "without implying that the action was either durative or 
perfective," 64 and "without in any sense defining the manner of its 
occurrence." 65 An aorist infinitive (such as Ttiaieuaai) may designate 
a single act of faith or a life of faith. It definitely does not contrast 
with the present; it merely does not affirm what the present often 
does affirm. 

Davis and Robertson claim that the aorist auaprnocouev in 
Rom 6:15 means, "Shall we commit a sin?" 66 But this is patently 
fallacious. It no more focuses on a single act than on a score of acts. 
It simply means, "Should we sin?" 

One of the most common errors in this classification is the oft- 
repeated claim that the aorist subjunctive in prohibitions forbids one 
to begin an act, whereas the present imperative commands one to 
cease doing an act. 67 While these differences may often fit the context, 
they are by no means indicated by the tenses in either case. To insist 
that the aorists in the clause, "Do not give (5c5t8) that which is holy 
to the dogs, nor cast (^dXr\xe) your pearls before swine," must mean 
"do not begin" to do these things, 68 is purely arbitrary. Whether they 
had been done before, or not, is wholly beside the point. 

Wenham gives a beautiful statement to the effect that a present 
imperative is used for "a command to continue an action or do it 
habitually" whereas the aorist imperative denotes "a command simply 
to do an action without regard to its continuance or frequency." 69 
But almost unbelievably he proceeds to deny his own clear statement! 
He refers to the parallel accounts of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 
(6:11) and Luke (11:3) and notes that Luke uses the present impera- 
tive of 518(oui ("give"), whereas Matthew uses the aorist. His conclu- 
sion is that the present "denotes a continuous act of giving, day after 
day" while the aorist indictes "a single act of giving: 'for today.'" 70 
On the same basis, Jeremias argued that Luke's version requests the 
daily giving of "earthly bread" while Matthew's version requests the 
eschatological "bread of life" for "the great Tomorrow." 71 The correct 
approach is to realize that the present adds an emphasis which the 

"ibid., 193. 
64 Ibid., 194. 
65 Ibid. 

66 Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 296. Even Stagg ("The Abused Aorist," 231) 
implies such a distinction! 

67 Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 296. 

68 Ibid. 

69 Wenham, Elements, 98. 

70 Ibid. 

71 Joachim Jeremias, The Lord's Prayer (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964) 24-25. 


aorist does not include but does not deny. They refer to the same 
action without any "contrast." 

One of the most amazing examples of overly contrasting the 
tenses is McKay's contrast between the perfect, Totg yeyaurpcoaiv 
("the married men") in 1 Cor 7: 10, and the aorist, 6 ya\ir\oac, 
("the married man"), in 7:37. The latter, he says, designates a "man 
newly committed to marriage," because the aorist refers to "a decisive 
event as a whole." 72 

Biblical examples 

The examples listed under the previous heading show that the 
aorist can be used of all kinds of actions, including repeated and 
continuous ones. This should adequately demonstrate that the aorist 
is not the opposite of the so-called durative tenses. Only a few 
additional references need be cited. 

In Gal 4:9 there is an interesting textual variant between 
the aorist SoiAeOam and the present 5ouA.ei>£iv. But is there a 
significant difference between, "Do you wish to serve as a slave to 
them again (aorist)?" and, "Do you wish to be in a condition of 
slavery to them again (present)?" 

Likewise, is there a significant difference between, "To which 
of the angels did he ever say. . . ?" (einsv, aorist, Heb 1:5) and, 
"To which of the angels has he ever said. . . ?" (eiprpcev, perfect, 
Heb 1:13)? 

The gospel statement includes the fact that Christ "has been 
raised" (perfect tense, eyriyepiai, 1 Cor 15:4). But continuance is not 
denied by the normal use of the aorist, "he was raised" (or "he arose," 
TiyepGn, Matt 28:7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:34). 

Aorist participles do not, of themselves, indicate momentary or 
temporary action in contrast with present participles. The aorist 
participle, dKouoag in Luke 6:49, does not describe a momentary 
and ineffectual hearing in contrast with the present participle, 
(xkoucov, in 6:47, which supposedly indicates an effective hearing with 
lasting results. 73 Otherwise, as Stagg has noted, Joseph's "hearing" 
(dtKouaag) would have to be a momentary and ineffectual hearing, 
even though it caused him to obey in every detail (Matt 2:22)! 74 The 
context, not the tense, tells which of the hearings was effective. 

Aorists deny neither results nor process. 

"McKay, "Syntax in Exegesis," 56. 

73 Stagg ("The Abused Aorist," 231) rightly objects to this error of Zerwick and 
74 Ibid. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 221 

the aorist does not occur in classes or kinds 

Though the labels vary extensively, Greek grammars and com- 
mentaries use a fairly standardized system of classification for what 
they call the various kinds, or uses, of the aorist tense. The most 
common labels for the six generally recognized classifications are as 
follows: constative, ingressive, culminative, gnomic, epistolary, and 
dramatic. It is hereby affirmed that these labels are wholly unrelated 
to the concept or function of the aorist tense. Most of them are 
equally applicable to other tenses. There may be constative, in- 
gressive, or culminative (and etc.) expressions, but not constative, 
ingressive, or culminative aorists. This is not mere nit-picking. The 
distinction is essential to avoid misrepresentations of God's Word. 

Examples of accuracy 

Though they have misstatements, Davis and Robertson properly 
note that the classifications are closely related to the meaning of the 
words involved. 75 McKay states that there was "no problem about 
using the aorist of the same verb twice in quick succession with . . . 
apparently different meanings . . . ," since "the aorist was simply the 
aorist, the 'undefined,'" and adds that "context is always important in 
deciding the precise significance of a particular form." 76 

Though he mixes it with error, Robertson states that the "in- 
gressive" (or inceptive, or inchoative) aorist is not "a tense notion at 
all. . . , it is purely a matter with the individual verb." By this he 
means that it is determined by word meaning and is not a tense 
function. He later notes that the "culminative" concept is shown "by 
the verb itself" 78 — not by any aspect of the tense. His best statement, 
stripped of its invalid accoutrements, is that "there is at bottom only 
one kind of aorist. . . ." 79 

Stagg's statement is perfect when he declares that the aorist is 
"a-oristic, undefined as to action," and that "Only contextual factors 
permit one to go beyond that to ascertain whether the action alluded 
to is singular or not." 80 A statement may affirm such distinctions, but 
the tense does not. This is why Dana and Mantey add, after intro- 
ducing their classifications, "However, the verbal idea as well as the 
context usually affects very decidedly the significance of the aorist." 

75 Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 296. 

76 McKay, "Syntax in Exegesis," 47, 56. 

"Robertson, Grammar, 834. 

78 Ibid., 835. 

79 Ibid. 

80 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 224. 

8 'Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 196. 


Examples of inaccuracy 

Burton correctly states that the tense is indefinite "in all of its 
uses" (emphasis added), but then contradicts himself by using the 
standard classifications which, he says, are determined by the differ- 
ing points of view and functions of the tense! 82 Likewise, Dana and 
Mantey assert that the point of the aorist is to speak of an event 
"without in any sense defining the manner of its occurrence," but then 
proceed to classify its uses based on the "modifications of the 
fundamental idea." 83 These "modifications," they say, result from the 
"different angles" from which the action is contemplated. 84 But as has 
been seen, the purpose of the aorist is to refrain from viewing the 
action in any way! 

It should be noted here that just as one would not choose to 
employ an aorist to emphasize process, he would not employ an 
aorist to emphasize a state. It is therefore not surprising to find that 
verbs with meanings which usually point to a state of being may be 
used in the aorist tense to describe entrance into that state. This is to 
be expected since the aorist is employed in naming an act, not a state. 
If this usage is labeled as "ingressive," it should be made clear that 
any "ingressive" concept is derived from the meaning of the words, 
regardless of what tense is employed. An earlier statement is worth 
repeating: There may be constative, ingressive, culminative (and etc.) 
expressions, but not constative, ingressive, or culminative aorists. If 
one defends such labels as "ingressive aorist" as merely another 
example of "grammatical shorthand," the response is that any "short- 
hand" should express reality and should not mislead. Other tenses 
may also be employed in constative, ingressive, or culminative expres- 
sions. These distinctions are not shown by the tense and the terminol- 
ogy employed should not imply that they are. 

Hale claims that "The aorist may put the spotlight on the 
beginning of the action, on the effect of the action, or on the action as 
a whole, but not on its progress or its repetition."* 5 The emphasized 
words (his emphasis) are valid but the earlier phrases deny the fact 
that the aorist does not identify or view the action in any way. The 
meaning of the words and the context may point to these things, but 
the tense does not. The statement by Summers that "There are several 
shades of meaning in the use of the aorist tense" is simply not true. 

Burton, Syntax, 16-17. 
'Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 195-96. 
'Ibid., 195. 
5 Hale, Let's Study Greek, 33. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 223 

Biblical examples 

There is no way to illustrate this point except by showing 
examples of arbitrary classifications and insisting that the classifica- 
tions are not derived from any tense function but from word meaning 
and context. 

The most commonly cited example of an "ingressive" aorist is in 
the clause, "for your sake he became poor" (87rcc6xeuo"£v, 2 Cor 8:9). 
But the aorist simply labels the act; he "abdicated" or "renounced" his 
riches; he impoverished himself. Nothing focuses on the beginning of 
the act. Attention is focused only on the fact. 

Is the aorist in the statement "The lion prevailed" (eviKnaev, 
Rev 5:5) ingressive, constative, or culminative? The answer is, It is 
aoristl Any classification comes from an interpretation of the context 
and could be true (or false!) regardless of the tense employed. 

John's command, "Produce fruit worthy of repentance" (noir\- 
aaxe, Matt 3:8), clearly refers to a process, though the aorist is used 
only for the purpose of naming the action. 

The word "received" (cf. e?iaPov in John 1:12) is often cited as an 
ingressive aorist. But the aorist does not point to the beginning of an 
act — only to the fact of the act. Anything else is derived from the 
meaning of the word and sentence. 

The KJV translated toiyr\oev in Acts 15:12, ""kept silence," while 
the NIV translates, "became silent" (constative versus ingressive). 
Which does the text affirm? Neither, though both are true statements! 
The best translation would be the most noncommittal (like the aorist), 
"the multitude was silent." 

To translate SKActuoev in Luke 19:41, "he burst into tears," as 
Robertson does, 86 is absolutely arbitrary. All we are told is that "he 


This is simply the converse of all the negative statements of the 
preceding headings. Further, the very fact of the various classifica- 
tions such as ingressive, culminative, etc., proves the point. 

Examples of accuracy 

After introducing the Greek tenses, Chamberlain urges students 
to "Remember that the same act may be looked at from any of the 

Robertson, Grammar, 834. 
Chamberlain, Grammar, 67. 


three viewpoints." According to McKay, "The action referred to by 
the aorist may be single and punctiliar or it may be repeated, or 
spread continuously over a long period of time." 88 Though he mis- 
takenly identifies the aorist as indicating action viewed as instan- 
taneous, Moule correctly states that it can refer to either past, 
present, or future. 89 This agrees with Stagg's statement that "the 
aorist can properly be used to convey any kind of action." 90 

Turner's remark is quite pertinent: "Sometimes the change of 
tense is prompted by no other motive than avoidance of monotony." 91 
Stagg wisely notes that "it is sometimes far from apparent why the 
writer switches his tenses." 92 

Examples of inaccuracy 

A recent student paper explained that the verb "was confirmed" 
(s(3epai6Gr|) in Heb 2:3 "expresses point action" and is therefore 
rightly translated in amplified form with the addition, "once-for-all." 
Of course, it does not refer to point action at all, but to the sign 
miracles of the apostles which were accomplished over a period of 
almost forty years. 

Another student paper, in explaining the verb "sinned" in 
Rom 5:12, claimed that "as an aorist it . . . speaks of one single act of 
sin." Davis and Robertson argue the opposite view and say that it 
refers to "the whole history of the race." 93 Neither approach can be 
proved by the tense. The immediate context and the larger context 
(theology) must be involved in one's decision. 

A well-known pastor recently distributed a paper arguing that 
the aorists in 1 John 2:1 were for the purpose of prohibiting even 
"one act of sin." He added, "the tense could not be present because 
John is addressing believers, and a true believer will not keep on 
sinning." This statement misrepresents the aorist, which may prohibit 
many acts as easily as one, and also misrepresents the present tense, 
which is often used of sinning Christians (cf. 1 John 5:16; 1 Cor 6:18, 
8:12, 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1 Tim 5:20). 

Hughes argues that "in favor of interpreting the present passage 
[Heb 6:4-6] in the light of the baptismal event is the series of 

88 McK.ay, "Syntax in Exegesis," 47. 
89 Moule, Idiom- Book, 10. 
90 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 223. 

"Nigel Turner, Syntax (vol. 3, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, ed. James 
Hope Moulton; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963) 66. 
92 Stagg, "The Abused Aorist," 226. 
93 Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 200. 

smith: errant aorist interpreters 225 

participles in the aorist tense . . . which would appropriately point 
back to the moment of initiation through a rite. . . ." 94 But the same 
logic would require "having fallen away" (v 6) to refer to baptism! 
There is nothing about the tenses that even suggests that they all refer 
to the same event — much less that of baptism. 

Biblical examples 

It is hardly necessary to provide examples under this heading. 
The great variety of examples listed under the previous headings all 
demonstrate that any time or kind of action can be described or 
viewed by an aorist. Furthermore, the grammars never dispute the 
point, though their statements and their practice are riddled with 
inconsistencies. Merely for the sake of completeness a few additional 
examples will be cited. 

Matthias was selected from among "those who had accom- 
panied" Jesus during his entire ministry (ouveXOovxcov, Acts 1:21). 
Here again the aorist describes a "durative" event. Similarly, Jesus 
said, "I always taught" (e8i5cd;a, John 18:20) wherever the Jews 
gathered together. 

The same verse states that Jesus "went in and went out" among 
the Jews (eiofj^Gev, e^fjMtev), yet 9:28 uses present participles (refer- 
ring to past time) to describe the same "going in and going out" 
(eicnrop£i)6uevo<;, 8K7ropeo6u£voc;). 

In Rev 1:19 John was commanded to write (ypdcpov) the things he 
had seen, and the things which are, and the things about to occur 
(yeveoGai). Both of these aorists refer to future events (for John) that 
would cover extensive periods of time. 


Dana and Mantey wrote: "Probably in no point have translators 
made more blunders than they have in rendering the aorist." Whether 
or not this is true of translators, it is certainly true of grammarians 
(including Dana and Mantey), commentators, teachers, preachers, 
and students. As McKay has stated, however, the aorist was simply 
the aspect used "when the speaker or writer had no special reason to 
use any other." 96 Robertson's terminology is almost identical: "The 
aorist is the tense used as a matter of course, unless there was special 

"Philip Edgecombe Hughes, "Hebrews 6:4-6 and the Peril to Apostasy," WTJ 35 
(1973) 152. 

95 Dana and Mantey, Grammar, 200. 
McKay, "Syntax in Exegesis," 46. 


reason for using some other tense." 97 Writing with Davis, he ampli- 
fies by stating that "If one desires to emphasize the notion of linear 
action on the one hand or the state of completion on the other, it is 
not the tense to use" (emphasis added). 98 

The sum of the matter is simply that with regard to the kind of 
action, and the way in which action is viewed, the aorist says no more 
than the analogous simple preterite and non-durational participial, 
infinitive, imperative, and subjunctive forms in English. Departure 
from the aorist is therefore far more exegetically significant than its 

Robertson, Grammar, 831. 
*Davis and Robertson, Grammar, 295. 




D. Brent Sandy 

Published here for the first time is a Christian papyrus of the 
fourth century. The content of the document is of special interest to 
biblical students for its statement about transformation. The position 
of the text on the page and the signs in the text are significant for 
papyrology. This article begins with a brief summary of the concept 
of transformation in the milieu of early Christianity, and against that 
backdrop presents the papyrus and its contents. 

Basic to the entirety of this article is the persuasiveness of the 
excellent teaching and scholarship of my esteemed pedagogue, Profes- 
sor James Boyer. Through many undergraduate and graduate courses, 
he created in this student an insatiable interest in the likes of Classical 
Greece and NT backgrounds. A Greek proverb says: rj dpxfj fjpiav 
navroQ, "The beginning is half of everything." To the one therefore 
who began a good work in me the following is dedicated. 

In the ancient world the concept of transformation was very 
common. Several literary pieces were entitled Metamorphoses, of 
which probably best known is Ovid's epic poem composed from 
about a.d. 2 onwards. 2 The dominant idea in much of this genre is of 
gods changing themselves into perceptible beings. But from Apuleius' 
Metamorphoses, written in the second century, we learn of the 
initiation rites typical of the mystery religions, where the devotee is 
transformed into a god-like being in a regeneration ritual. 3 Tatian, a 
Christian writing in the second century, mentions both aspects when 

'J. Behm, "uexauopcpow," TDNT 4. 756-57. 

2 E. J. Kenney, "Ovid," Oxford Classical Dictionary, 764. 

3 Apuleius, Metamorphoses (= The Golden Ass), II. 23-29; J. W. Duff, A Literary 
History of Rome in the Silver Age: From Tiberius to Hadrian (2d ed.; New York: 
Barnes and Noble, 1960) 153. 


he ridicules the Greek and Roman gods: "There are legends of the 
metamorphosis of men: with you the gods also are metamorphosed. 
Rhea becomes a tree; Zeus a dragon ... a god, forsooth, becomes a 
swan, or takes the form of an eagle. . . ." 4 Present also in the Jewish 
literature, the transformation motif occurs especially in apocalyptic 
descriptions of an eschatological salvation. 5 

In the NT, deity and humanity again undergo a change in form. 6 
Paul describes the incarnation as a taking on of the form of a 
servant. Jesus was transfigured, as recorded in three Gospels, 8 mid- 
way through his public ministry. The post-resurrection appearances 
of Jesus evidence another change in form. 9 However, that special 
experience on the Mount of Transfiguration viewed by three disciples 
goes almost unnoticed in the rest of Scripture 1 and had little 
apparent effect on his followers." Paul speaks of a present and future 
transformation of the Christian but makes no allusion to the trans- 
figuration of Jesus: tt|v cturnv eiKova uexauopcpouueGa, "we are 
being transformed into the same image;" ueTaaxn,uaTio£i to ocopa 
tfjc; xoiTieivcDGecDc; f|U(3v auuuopcpov tco acouaxi xfj<; 56H,r]<; autoC, "He 
will transform the body of our humility into conformity with the 
body of his glory." 12 

Among the many volumes extant representing the early Christian 
movement, Jesus' transfiguration and incarnation are treated in 
numerous commentaries and homilies, 13 but the Christian's trans- 
formation is rarely mentioned, 14 perhaps to avoid association with the 
pagan mystery religions. 

Tatian, Address to the Greeks 10.1. See similar statements in Aristides, Apology 
8.2; 9.6,7. 

5 2 Bar. 51:3, 10. In the OT the only change of form recorded is Exod 34:29-35; 
perhaps also the angel of the Lord appearances imply a transformation of deity into 
human form. 

Terms: petauopcpoa), ueTaaxTiuaxi^a), auuuopcpi^w, auuuopcpoc;. 

7 Phil 2:7. 

8 Matt 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36. 

9 Luke 24:37, 38; John 20:14-17; cf. Mark 16:12. 

l0 The only clear remark is 2 Pet 1:17, 18. 

"Joseph B. Bernardin, "The Transfiguration," JBL 52 (1933) 188. 

12 2 Cor 3:18; Phil 3:21. See also Rom 8:29; 12:2; Phil 3:10; 2 Cor 11:13-15. 

l3 For complete discussion see A. M. Ramsey, The Glory of God and the 
Transfiguration of Christ (London/New York/Toronto: Longmans and Green, 1949) 

The only examples I have found are Methodius Olympius, The Banquet 8.8, 
". . . transformation into the image of the Word" and Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, 
De Divinis Nominibus 1.3. My search for references to transformation was conducted 
in: G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961-68); 
E. J. Goodspeed, Index Patristicus sive Clavis Patrum Apostolicorum Operum 
(Naperville, IL: Allenson, 1907); E. J. Goodspeed, Index Apologeticus sive Clavis 
Justini Martyris Operum, (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1912); H. Kraft, Clavis Patrum 
Apostolicorum (Munich: Kosel, 1963). 

sandy: a christian papyrus 229 

the papyrus 15 

P.Rob, inv. 28 was purchased in 1953 by the late Professor 
David M. Robinson, who bought it from a Cairo dealer by the name of 
of Sameda. Nothing more about the provenance is known. 16 

The papyrus is the bottom 4.4 cm. of a leaf of a codex that was 
apparently 14.7 cm. in width. Along the top edge of the fragment, on 
both sides, remain the lower portions of letters which were from the 
last line of the body of text. On H, 11 below the traces of letters at the 
top of the fragment (line 1), are five lines written in what was 
originally the margin at the bottom of the page. The papyrus is light 
brown in color, V being somewhat lighter than H. The fabric of the 
papyrus is of coarse quality. 

The appearance of the writing and the position on the papyrus is 
informal and almost careless. The amount written and the room on 
the leaf were not carefully coordinated, so that it is gradually more 
crowded together into the available space. The margin to the left is at 
least 1.3 cm. and above, 1.3 cm.; but no margin exists to the right or 
at the bottom. As much as 0.7 cm. separate lines 2 and 3, while 
between lines 5 and 6 there is at most 0.5 cm. 

The bottom edge of the papyrus is fairly straight, probably 
representing the original bottom edge of the codex leaf. The side 
edges are both frayed and rounded on the corners. The left edge 
(looking at H) is likely where the leaf was folded in the binding of the 
codex. The top edge is not as straight as the bottom edge, nor is it as 
frayed as the side edges; here the papyrus was probably cut with a 
knife by the finders or dealers through whose hands it passed. 
Perhaps we can hypothesize that when the papyrus was cut it was not 
connected to its codex, but was a single leaf that was divided by at 
least two parties. 


Although written along the fibers, the line of fibers is not 
followed for the writing, nor were any rulings made. Brown ink, 
although sometimes dark and sometimes light, was used for all the 
writing on the papyrus. Several places on H there appear to be some 
traces of lampblack, unrelated to what is written in brown ink. Little 
care was given in the use of the pen; it was evidently rather blunt and 
not carefully made. There are not neat thicks and thins in the letters; 

15 See the plates on pp. 234-35. 

16 For permission to publish P.Rob, inv. 28 I thank Professor William Willis of 
Duke University under whose guidance I did initial work on this papyrus and who has 
graciously assisted in this publication of the papyrus. 

17 H stands for the side of the papyrus with the fibers lying horizontally; V is for 
the side with vertical fibers. 


this is true for what remains of the text above and for what is written 
below. Palaeographically, the remains of line 1 on both sides re- 
semble the style of lines 2-6 on H. Thus the same hand with the same 
pen and ink may have written both. 

The characteristics of the hand are best paralleled by P.Mert. 
II, 93 (a private Christian letter, dated to the fourth century and 
described in relation to P.Jews 1927 as a fair sized, sloping, literary 
type), and the Dyskolos papyrus of P.Bodmer, dated late third or 
fourth century. 18 For some letters, their size in relation to others is 
quite irregular (note the long descenders, especially on upsilon, and 
the large epsilon), adding to the informal look of the writing. The 
absence of ligatures and the presence of diaeresis is standard in book 
hands of this period. 


Occurrences of /. in literary papyri that I have noted are as 

P.Oxy. 16 first century Thucydides 

696 first century Thucydides 

2442 third century Pindar 

2697 third century Argonautica 

2306 second century Commentary on Alcaeus 

P.Flor. third century Commentary on Aristophanes 

In four of the six examples, it is placed in the margin; in the other 
two it is placed in mid-verse. 

A partial explanation of this symbol is given by Diogenes 
Laertius (iii, 66). He names and describes the use of various signs in a 
text of Plato; in regard to '/• he says:; nepieanyuevot; rtpdc, 
tag eiKaiouc; dGexriaeic;, "the obelos periestigmenos is for random 
rejections (of passages)." 

Nowhere has i been found among literary papyri of Classical 

The use of both signs, however, is frequent in Biblical and 
Christian papyri. Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus demonstrate 
the frequent use of both signs, sometimes together and sometimes 
separately, but always where a correction has been made. 19 When 
used together, i stands in the margin and /. marks the precise place in 
the line for the correction. At the top or bottom of the page, I stands 

l8 For bibliographical data on various editions of papyri cited, see John F. Oates, 
Roger S. Bagnall, and William H. Willis, Checklist of Editions of Greek Papyri and 
Ostraca, 2nd ed., BASP: Supplements 1 (1978), distributed by Scholars Press. 

19 See, in addition to the codices, H. J. M. Milne and T. C. Skeat, Scribes and 
Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus (London: British Museum, 1938) 40. 

sandy: a christian papyrus 231 

at the beginning of what is to be inserted, and '/■ stands at the end. 
Sometimes dvco and Karoo accompany /.. 

In Chester Beatty Papyrus VI (Numbers and Deuteronomy), 
dated to the second century, I is used identically as 1 in Codices 
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. 

Henry A. Sanders notes the use of '/. in some biblical manu- 
scripts dated to the fourth or early fifth century, marking the location 
of the omission and then repeated in the margin giving the words to 
be supplied. 20 

An exact parallel to P.Rob, inv. 28 is described in P. Turn, where 1 
and /. stand together in the margin at the beginning of the part to be 
supplied. In the text, i marks the line and /. the precise location 
within the line. 21 

A somewhat later function of ■/. is described by Isidore (a.d. 602- 
36), bishop of Seville (1.21): Lemniscus, id est, virgula inter geminos 
punctos iacens, opponitur in his locis, quae sacrae Scripturae inter- 
pretes eodem sensu, sed diversis sermonibus transtulerent, "The 
lemniscus, that is a stick lying between two points, is placed in those 
places which the interpreters of Holy Scriptures transcribe in the 
same sense, but with different expressions." 

The evidence therefore for the function of i and '/• in the fourth 
century suggests that lines 2-6 of P. Rob. inv. 28 were an omission in 
the text above and were supplied in the bottom margin of the page. 22 


The text of P.Rob, inv. 28 has not been found in the corpus 
of Patristic literature extant, nor has the rest of the papyrus from 
which this piece was cut been located in the editions of published 
papyri. Without that larger context it remains impossible to deter- 
mine the complete meaning of the text we have. Clearly, however, it 
is a Christian description of some form of transformation. 


Although the usual Christian discussions of a change in form 
centered on the transfiguration of Jesus, the present text does not 
readily fit that sense of transformation. The restoration of what sin 
destroyed and the visitation of the dead seem out of place in the 
context of the transfiguration. Some recent scholarship, however, has 

20 Henry A. Sanders, The Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels (New York: 
MacMillan, 1912) 32. 

21 Albert Henrichs, Didymos der Blinde: Kommentar zu Hiob, Teil I (Bonn: 
Rudolf Habelt, 1968) 17. 

22 E. G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World( Princeton, NJ: Princeton 
University, 1971) 17, 18. 


seen in the transfiguration story a prediction of the resurrection, in 
which case inclusion of references to the passion week may be 
appropriate. 23 A. M. Ramsey, discussing Heb 2:9, says ". . . the 
writer, who cherishes greatly the traditions of the earthly life of Jesus 
and dwells especially upon the episode of Gethsemane (in v. 7-8) may 
have the event of the transfiguration specifically in mind." 24 How- 
ever, this association of the transfiguration with the resurrection of 
Jesus is rare in the early Christian literature. 


Perhaps the visitation of the dead should be understood in a 
spiritual sense, that Jesus came among the spiritually dead to raise 
them up to be citizens of heaven. 25 Problematic, though, for this 
explanation is the statement that it was a transformation into his own 
image, hardly descriptive of the incarnation; unless this statement 
refers to the transformation of believers into his image, that their 
obedience might restore what sin destroyed. 

A good example of an early Christian work which speaks of the 
incarnation as a transformation is Ascension of Isaiah 3:13: 26 

. . . Kai 6[n 5i' a]uxou e(pav£[pcb9r) f|] e^ekevoic, [tou dYa]7ir|ToO ek 
[tou ep5]6|iou oupavoO, Kai f\ usTauopcpcoatc; auxoO, Kai r\ Katdpaatc; 
auxoO Kai r| i8ea fjv 5ei auxov u8Tapop(p(o6fjvai ev ei8ei dvGpcbTiou. . . . 

. . . and that through him was revealed the departure of the beloved 
from the seventh heaven, and his transformation, and his descent, and 
the appearance which had to be transformed in the form of man. . . . 

Descent into hell 

A third explanation for the meaning of P.Rob, inv. 28 is a fre- 
quent topic in early Christianity, the descensus ad infernos. The 

23 J. Schniewind, Das Evangelium Nach Markus (NTD; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck 
and Ruprecht, 1956) 117; H. Baltensweiler, Die Verklarung Jesu: Historisches Ereignis 
und synoptische Berichte (Zurich: Zwingli, 1959). R. Bultmann, Die Geschichte der 
synoptischen Tradition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1957) 278; but against 
this see G. H. Boobyer, St. Mark and the Transfiguration Story (Edinburgh: 
T. & T. Clark, 1942) 21. 

24 Ramsey, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, 126-27. 
For the use of "dead" in this figurative sense see BAGD, 534. 
P.Amh. 1. xviii. 22- xix.5 

27 See J. A. MacCulloch, The Harrowing of Hell: A Comparative Study of an 
Early Christian Doctrine (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1930); Malcolm L. Peel, "The 
'Descensus ad Infernos' in 'The Teachings of Silvanus' (CG VII, 4)," Numen 26 

sandy: a christian papyrus 233 

visitation of the dead and raising them up to heaven and the 
restoration of what sin destroyed favor this interpretation. 

Another passage of the Ascension of Isaiah is instructive here: 28 

. . . kou xr)v Kcrcdpaaiv icai e^E^suaiv xoO aya7rr)xo0 ek tou epSopou 
oupavou eiq xov a5r|v, Kal xf|v pexauopcpwow fjv psxapop(pco0r| 
euTrpoaGsv xqv ua9r|xwv auxou. . . . 

. . . and the descent and departure of the beloved from the seventh 
heaven into Hades, and the transformation which was transformed 
before his disciples. . . . 

Against this understanding of P. Rob. inv. 28 is the transformation 
phrase, which hardly describes the dead, but could be taken to refer to 
his resurrection. 


P.Rob, inv. 28 14.7 x 4.4 cm. Fourth Century 

H ]?o[v] yo[ 

1 /. epyov f\v eiq iSiav aOiou avauopcpcoon; 
eixova iv' o auvexpivj/ev r\ 7rapdpaaic; dvavew- 
a tl A X^P l G T ^te i37raKofj<;. 5id Tai3xr|v xf|v aixiav ye- 
yovev ev veKpoig iva Kai veKpoix; eaoxdii 

dvaaxriar) oupavoO noXimq kc;. 

V ]a 5e yeypcup [ ]u[ ]y[ 


The deed was a transformation into his own image in order that 
what sin shattered the grace of obedience might restore. For this 
reason the Lord came among the dead in order that he might raise up 
to himself even the dead as citizens of heaven. 


H 1. Fragments of four letters remain, with space between the 
second and third for another letter. The reading supplied in the 

A. M. Denis, Fragmenta Pseudepigraphorum Quae Supersunt Graeca (Leiden: 
E. J. Brill, 1970) 105. 



-*^* 4 




^^ at... 

^ ^ As 


■£* ^ c ^ 

* 1 15 




sandy: a christian papyrus 











transcription is one possibility of many. The letters listed below are 
considered feasible on the basis of the ink that remains of the four 


i e 

P o 

* ? 

cp CD 

If the omega is selected for letter 2, there would probably not be 
room for another letter following it before letter 3. It is assumed that 
the line continued following letter 4; however, letter 1 was probably 
the first in the line, considering the left margin of lines 2-6. 

2. avauopcpcoaic;: ". . . The scribe apparently wrote ava- 
uop(pcoaeco[<;] initially, which he (or someone) corrected to ava- 
uopcpcooit;; in other words, e was corrected to a heavy exaggerated i, 
and co was corrected to c;." 29 

5. veicpoic;: ". . . The scribe apparently wrote the third word 
vsKpooioi, then cancelled the second omicron and erased the final 
iota, then proceeded to write iva. . . ." 

6. KOAiTcxc;: "... I believe the scribe wrote nokixac,, but the top 
stroke of the sigma has flaked away leaving a form that could be 
misread as iota, except for the fact that his iotas never turn to the 
right at the bottom. . . ." 

V 1 . Fragments of ten letters remain, with possible space following 
letters 6 and 7 for one other letter. The reading supplied in the 
transcription is one possibility of many. The letters listed below are 
considered feasible on the basis of the ink that remains. 










































The papyrus here published, though enigmatic because of its 
brevity and its separation from a wider context, is illustrative of the 

29 My thanks again to Professor Willis for his reexamination of the papyrus and 
comments on lines 2, 5, 6. 

sandy: a christian papyrus 237 

primary evidence preserved on papyrus and of the theological litera- 
ture of the early Christians. In addition to the essential discussions of 
the papyrus itself, the signs, and the palaeography, three possible 
explanations for its content were explored. However until the rest of 
the piece of papyrus is located from which P.Rob, inv. 28 was cut or 
until the specific content of the papyrus is found in other extant 
Patristic literature, a decision regarding the significance of the state- 
ments of the papyrus will remain premature. 

ROMANS 7:14-25: 



David S. Dockery 

The interpretation of Rom 7:14-25 has been problematic his- 
torically. Does the passage reflect Paul's pre -conversion experience 
under the law? This was a major interpretation of the church fathers. 
Or does this passage describe Paul's tension in the Christian life? The 
latter position is defended here by an interpretation of the exegetical 
considerations and an examination of the theological implications. 

* * * 


ROM 7:14-25 has without exaggeration been described as "the most 
discussed and fought over part" 1 of the epistle. In this grand 
epistie there are several perplexing problems for the interpreter. 
Without a doubt, Rom 5:12-21 and 9:1-11:36 guarantee a difficult 
task for the interpreter. 2 Yet, as MacGorman says, "My nomination 
for the most difficult passage in this letter to interpret is Romans 
7: 1-25. " 3 Nygren says: 

It presents us with one of the greatest problems in the New Testament. 
It was already recognized in the first century; and since that time it has 
never come to rest. 4 

The predominant question in the interpretation of these verses is 
one on which there have been deep-seated differences of judgment in 

A. Nygren, A Commentary on Romans, translated by C. Rasmussen 
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1949), p. 284. 

Cf. S. L. Johnson, Jr., "Romans 5:12 — An Exercise in Exegesis and Theology," in 
New Dimensions in New Testament Study (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974)298-316, 
and B. Corley, "Romans 9-1 1," in Southwestern Journal of Theology 19 (Fall, 
1976) 43ff. 

J. W. MacGorman, "Romans 7 Once More," in Southwestern Journal of 
Theology 19 (Fall, 1976)31. 

Nygren, A Commentary on Romans, 284. 


the history of the church. 5 This essay will seek to answer the 
important exegetical questions and attempt to relate it to Paul's 
theology. Romans 7 is thus seen as one of the pivotal passages in 
Paul's theology. 

Since the passage is located at the heart of Paul's explanation of 
the outworking of one's salvation, the view which is adopted will have 
a tremendous impact upon one's theology of the Christian life. "One 
side sees too much bondage to sin for a Christian, and the other sees 
too much desire for the good for a sinner." 6 A proper understanding 
of the nature of indwelling sin will have a significant effect upon the 
first of these views, if indeed it can be demonstrated that this passage 
refers to the Christian experience. 

In this section and the previous verses (7-13), Paul appears to be 
speaking autobiographically. The reader cannot help but notice the 
extensive use of the personal pronoun "I." In vv 7-25, Paul uses "I," 
"me" and "my" no less than 46 times, as translated in the NASB. In 
the Greek text, the eight emphatic uses of the personal pronoun "I" 
further enhance that aspect. The question which must be answered is 
whether this usage is rhetorical, typical, or autobiographical. 

In vv 14-25, Paul continues to speak in the first person singular, 
but he leaves the past tense and turns to the present tense. The 
meaning and significance of this change has great bearing upon one's 
interpretation. The problem that should be considered "concerns the 
temporal reference of the passage and the identity of the subject." 8 
What sounded like past testimony in vv7-13 seems to be present 
experience in vv 14-25. Present tenses regularly describe action or 
state of being which is contemporary with the writer. The present 
tenses also signify a characterization of condition. 

The third problem is the meaning of the anthropological or 
psychological terms which are so frequently used, as well as the 

J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1959) 256. 

6 D. Moody, Romans, in The Broadman Bible Commentary (12 vols., Nashville: 
Broadman, 1970) 10.207. 

C. E. B. Cranfield in his commentary on Romans lists several suggestions which 
have been proposed. He concludes that it is "an example of the general use of the first 
person singular." He continues saying that this is "due not merely to a desire for 
rhetorical vividness, but also to his deep sense of personal involvement, his conscious- 
ness, that in drawing out the general truth, he is disclosing the truth about himself. 
Cf. Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975) 1.343. 

8 R. Y. K. Fung, "The Impotence of the Law: Toward a Fresh Understanding of 
Romans 7:14-25," in Scripture, Tradition, and Interpretation (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1978)34. 

The present tenses are sometimes taken as historical presents to describe the past 
in a vivid manner, but this is the exception and not the normal interpretation. 


intensity of the language expressed in military terms. The definition 
of these terms will be most important for a proper understanding of 
the conflict described. 

The fourth major problem is the usage of "law." The interpreter 
must seek to determine whether it is law as principle, the law of God 
(Torah), or another possible meaning. The context will aid greatly in 
the consideration of this question. 


Throughout the history of the Church, many interpretations 
have been offered for this much-debated passage. It is not my 
purpose to explain each of these views, but only to summarize briefly 
those which are significant. The various interpretations, as it will be 
seen, cannot necessarily be grouped into certain theological or 
denominational camps. Does the passage describe his present struggle 
as a Christian or his former experience as a man under law? Or does 
it possibly transcend the "then" and "now" categories? 10 

View 1 

It is much debated whether the experience recounted is that of 
Paul as an unregenerate or as a regenerate person. The former 
position has generally been the prevalent view of most interpreters. 
Interpreters who take this position point especially to v 14, "I am 
made of flesh sold under the bondage of sin," and affirm that this 
could hardly be said of a Christian, especially in light of Paul's 
statement in Romans 6. The Greek fathers generally adopted this 
position, as have Althaus, Kertelge, Kiirzinger, Dodd, Sanday- 
Headlam, Moffatt, and Wesley. 12 Kurzinger says that to understand 
Romans 7 as referring to Paul's post-conversion experience is a 
misunderstanding of Paul's intent. 13 

The change of tense is explained by exponents of this view in 
terms of a close logical connection between the two sections; the 
latter section merely describes the result of the irrevocable history 

10 J. W. MacGorman, "Romans 7 Once More," 34. 

"For a detailed summary of the various views, the reader is encouraged to see 
S. Lyonnet, "L'historre du salut selon le chapitre vii do l'epitre aux Romains," Bib 
43(1962)117-51, and A. Nygren, A Commentary on Romans, 284ff. 

12 See the listings in K. von Kertelge, "Exegetische Oberlegungen zum Verstandnis 
der paulinischen Anthropologic nach Romer 7," ZNWbl (1971) 105, and MacGorman, 
"Romans 7 Once More," 35. C. H. Dodd is probably the outstanding representative of 
this view. Cf C. H. Dodd, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (London: Fontana, 
1959) 125-26. 

1J J. Kiirsinger, "Der Schlussel zum Verstandnis von Rom 7," BZ 7 (1963) 274. 


narrated in the earlier section, but both the history and result are a 
part of the past. 14 One of the difficulties involved in this view is v 25b, 
if actual deliverance has arrived in the preceding verses (14-25a). 
Thus, men like Michel attempt to transpose the verses, 15 but there is 
absolutely no textual evidence for such a transposition. 16 The sugges- 
tion involves supposing a drastic change in subject between v 24 (non- 
Christian) and v 25a (Christian). 

Bornkamm notes that there seems to be a growing consensus 
that this interpretation is the case of Paul, that of viewing his non- 
Christian experience through his present experience. Thus, this view 
holds that Paul is writing in general about man under the law, man 
before conversion, man seeking to live righteously by his own efforts. 
He makes his account vivid, therefore, by illustrating its verification 
through his own experience. The above interpretation primarily views 
this section as autobiographical, though this does not rule out the 
possibility of typical application. 

This perspective owes its revival in modern theology to Pietism 
and was the dominant interpretation of Romans 7 at the beginning 
of this century. It is thus seen in contrast to Romans 8, which 
describes the transition for Paul from law to grace. 

View 2 

There are some interpreters who understand the emphasis of the 
passage to be the law. It says that it is "the experience of any man 
who tries the experiment, whether he be regenerate or unregenerate. 18 
Thomas sees these verses as describing "a man who is trying to be 
good and holy by his own efforts and is beaten back every time by the 
power of indwelling sin." 19 Thus he concludes that the conflict 
represented is not between the two natures of the believer, but refers 
to the effect of the law on a heart that recognizes its spirituality. 20 

Cf. G. Bornkamm, Early Christian Experience (2 vols.. New York: Harper and 
Row, 1969), I. 93. The present tenses are viewed as historical presents. 

O. Michel, Der Brief an die Romer (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 
1955) 179. 

R. Y. K. Fung, "The Impotence of the Law," 35. 

Ibid. Also cf. J. Kiirzinger, "Der Schlussel zum Verstandnis von Rom 7," 271, 
who says that v 25b is the key to this interpretation. 

W. H. Griffith Thomas, St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: A Devotional 
Commentary (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1911)42. 

Ibid. It must be stated in response to this view that the present tenses in these 
verses cannot be understood as tendential presents. The present tenses cannot be 
handled in such fashion due to contextual considerations. 
20 Ibid., 44. 


Similarly, C. L. Mitton states that the text is 

a description of the distressing experience of any morally earnest man, 
whether Christian or not, who attempts to live up to the commands of 
God 'on his own' (auxdc; eycb), without that constant reliance upon the 
uninterrupted supply of the resources of God which is characteristic of 
the mature Christian. It is essentially applicable to a man 'under the 
law,' even if he be nominally a Christian. ... It can also be true of the 
converted Christian who has slipped . . . into a legalistic attitude to 
God and to righteousness. 21 

In this interpretation, "the present tenses describe not merely a past 
experience but one which is potentially ever-present." Lightfoot notes 
that the important aspect of this interpretation is the understanding 
of auxdc; eyco." 

This view is regarded as autobiographical by some interpreters 
and non-autobiographical by others. 

View 3 

There have been some commentators who have understood this 
passage to refer to the years immediately following Paul's conversion. 
It is thus a picture of someone who loves the law of God and longs to 
do it but is forced by a stronger power than himself to do things 
which he detests. This is "no abstract argument but the echo of the 
personal experience of an anguished soul."~ 4 It is supposedly a 
description of Paul still living under the law before learning of the life 
according to the Spirit. While being primarily autobiographical, it 
can also be understood representatively of all young or immature 

There are many who either expound this view or lean in its 
direction. It has become very prevalent in parts of evangelicalism, 
especially in "victorious life" circles. 25 The basis for such an interpre- 
tation is the conspicuous absence of the Holy Spirit and the prevalent 
usage of "I." This is contrasted with the relative absence of "I" in 
Romans 8 and the emphasis upon the Holy Spirit. Those advocating 
this position see the passage as a struggle between the two natures in 

C. L. Mitton, "Romans vii Reconsidered," Exp Tim 65 (1954)133. 

22 A. M Hunter, The Epistle to the Romans (London: SCM, 1955) 74. 

23 J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (London: Macmillan, 1895) 305. 
It should be noted that this interpretation is dependent on many other important 
factors which lead to this position. 

24 M. Gougel, The Birth of Christianity (New York: Harper and Row, 1953), 
p. 213. 

25 Cf. L. S. Chafer, He That Is Spiritual (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1918), 115-18. 


the believer. In Romans 7, the old nature is viewed as the victor 
because he has chosen to be under the law and not under grace (cf. 
Rom 6:14 and Gal 5:16-21). Thus, defeat is inevitable because there is 
no spiritual victory under the law. Romans 7 "describes the abject 
misery and failure of a Christian who attempts to please God under 
the Mosaic system." 26 

Concerning the inability of a Christian to live a successful 
spiritual life under the law, it can be said that, 

The child of God, in his inner nature, desires to obey the Mosaic 
commandments, but his sin nature immediately thwarts his noble 
intentions. The fault lies not with the law, but with the Christian. It is 
important then to see that the conflict of the believer in Romans 7 
takes place under the law." 

Likewise, Fung, with reference to the Christian's inability, 
comments that 

the implication of the present passage would seem to be that the 
Christian is not to live hypo nomon, submitting to the law of God as a 
legal code and trying to keep it by his own efforts, for neither these nor 
God's law can enable him to overcome his indwelling sin; but that he is 
to walk kata pneuma, who imparts that power which the law cannot 
supply, and who alone can break the domination of sin and flesh in the 
Christian's life and enable him to fulfill the righteous requirements of 
the law. 28 

These men agree that this is not spiritual victory and add that one 
does not permanently remain in Romans 7, but moves upward into 
Romans 8, which is a higher level of the Christian life. 29 Ramm asks, 
"What mature Christian has not occasionally felt I'm in Romans 7 
again?" He then adds, "How well many of us know that we cannot 
get to Romans 8 without going through Romans 7." 31 Thus, Romans 7 
is viewed as the picture of a carnal believer or one on a lower plain of 
spirituality. This view is both autobiographical and typical in that it 
can apply to all believers. 

S. D. Toussaint, "The Contrast Between the Spiritual Conflict in Romans 7 and 
Galatians5," BSac 123 (1966) 312. 

27 Ibid. 

28 Fung, "The Impotence of the Law," 45-46. 

29 B. Ramm, "The Double and Romans 7," Christianity Today 15:14 (April 9, 
1971) 18. 

30 lbid., 19. 

3, Ibid. 


View 4 

Augustine at one time understood Paul to be speaking in the 
name of the unregenerate man, but later retracted his earlier view and 
maintained that Paul was speaking in his own name as a Christian. 32 
This perspective has been adopted to a large extent by the Western 
Church, by the Reformers, the Puritans, and by some of the ablest 
scholars of recent times. 33 The Reformers said that Rom 7:14-25 is a 
picture of a righteous man who is still a sinner. Luther said, "homo 
simul iustus et peccator bezogen." 34 Calvin also adopted this view but 
had difficulties applying v 14 to a Christian, so he regarded the 
transition as taking place at v 15. 35 Those who take this to be the 
condition which characterizes the Christian life point to v 22, "1 
joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner man." These 
commentators argue that an unconverted person could hardly speak 
in such a manner. Furthermore, great significance is placed upon the 
consistent use of the present tense throughout the passage. J. I. Packer 
maintains that "the only natural way for Paul's readers to interpret 
the present tenses of verses 14ff. is as having a present reference," 
since there is no recognized linguistic idiom which will account for 
the change of tense. 36 

This final option, probably the minority interpretation, is offered 
in this paper. The two primary reasons for this position are: (1) that it 
seems to be the most normal interpretation of Romans 7 itself and of 
Romans 7 in its immediate context, and (2) it presents a picture of 
Paul's larger understanding of what the experience of grace means to 
each believer in his present state. It is a picture of tension, that of life 
in the Spirit and the flesh in the dual nature of Christian experience. 


Chapter seven might be characterized as the great contradiction. 
It has been said that, "nowhere else in the letters, and nowhere else in 

32 Cf. Cranfield, Romans, I. 345, n. 4. 

"ibid., 345-46, lists advocates of this view as Methodius, the Latins, Augustine, 
Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, Aquinas, Barth, Nygren, Barrett, and Murray. 

34 Cited by Kertelge, "Exegetische Oberlegungen," 106. This simply means that a 
person is righteous and a sinner at the same time. 

35 J. Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947) 149. 

36 J. I. Packer, "The Wretched Man of Romans 7," Studia Evangelica 2: 1 (1964) 624. 
He adds that the use of the historic present in the gospels to give vividness to the 
narrative does not provide a parallel, for here the narrative part is in the aorist, and 
what is in the present is not narrative, but generalized explanatory comment. 


ancient literature, Greek or Jewish, is there such a penetrating 
description of man's plight and contradiction as in Rom. 7:7-25." 
The first six verses of the chapter assert strongly the fact of the 
believer's death to the law. This is done by a somewhat imperfect 
analogy with the husband and wife. The following verses demonstrate 
the character of the law, i.e., it is "holy, just and good." This is done 
by expressing the character of the law and its relation to Paul in his 
transitional experience before his conversion (7:7-13). This can be 
demonstrated primarily by the past tense verbs. The shift to the 
present tense in vv 14-25 is indicative that this section describes Paul's 
struggle with sin as a believer. Vv 24 and 25 form a conclusion to this 
difficult section. 

There are three cycles that can be seen in the apostle's discussion 
of the problem of indwelling sin. The first cycle contains vv 14-17. 
The second cycle, which is almost a repetition of the first, involves 
vv 18-20. The conclusion of the passage, containing vv 21-25, com- 
poses the third cycle. The results arrived at in each cycle are the same. 
All reveal the unhappy condition of one who is a bondslave to 
indwelling sin. 

In v 14, there is a significant change in the verb tenses. The 
present tenses thus inform the reader that the statements of vv 14-25 
are characteristic of the apostle's life, and by application this 
characterization still holds true for all believers. This is the first 
reason for interpreting this much disputed passage as applicable to 
the Christian. Some have suggested that these are historic presents 
but, following Packer, this is to be rejected. 

Paul, inversely, wants it understood that he is not depreciating 
the law. In the first section of this chapter, he says that the law is 
spiritual. Harrrison takes this to mean that it is "emanating from God 
(vv 22, 25) who is Spirit (John 4:24). " 38 Paul then proceeds to contrast 
this with the character which is "fleshen, sold under the bondage of 
sin." For those who recognize this section as referring to the Christian, 
this phrase presents the most difficult problem. 39 

The law is recognized as spiritual, which refers to its divine 
origin and character. Since it is spiritual, it is possessed of those 
qualities which are divine — "holy, just and good." In vv 14, 16, 
and 22, the apostle is primarily referring to the Mosaic law. 

The comprehension of syo), which occurs in vv 14, 17, 20, and 24 
takes the interpreter a long way toward the interpretation of vv 14-25. 

37 G. Bornkamm, The New Testament: A Guide to Its Writings (Philadelphia: 
Fortress, 1973) 107. 

E. F. Harrison, "Romans," The Expositor's Bible Commentary (12 vols., 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 10. 82. 

Bruce Corley and Curtis Vaughan, Romans (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 87. 


The best solution is to apply the eycb to the life of every Christian and 
the dialectic simul iustus et peccator. The "I" should be referred to 
the unregenerate state in vv7-13, but to the regenerate in vv 14-25. 
The first person singular is used just as it has been throughout 
the chapter, but now for the first time with the present tense. Some 
expositors want to insist that this idea belongs to a stage of the 
Christian life which can be left behind, a stage in which the Christian 
is living under the law or struggling in his own strength. But 
Cranfield says, 

We are convinced that it is possible to do justice to the text of 
Paul — and also to the facts of Christian living wherever they are to be 
observed — only if we resolutely hold chapters 7 and 8 together, in spite 
of the obvious tension between them, and see in them not two 
successive stages but two different aspects, two contemporaneous 
realities, of the Christian life, both of which continue so long as the 
Christian is in the flesh. 40 

The domination of sin describes Paul's condition. Because of the 
similar statement in 1 Kgs 21:20 and 2 Kgs 17:17, 41 it has been said 
that this phrase (Rom 7:14b) is proof that the passage could not refer 
to the regenerate. 42 In the OT passages, the person is the active agent; 
in the Romans passage, he is subjected to a power that is alien to his 
own will. Thus, Paul is seen to deplore this power which has 
domination over him. He recognizes it for what it truly is — sin. 
Though on the surface the phrase appears to prove that the passage 
cannot refer to a regenerate person, the situation is actually quite the 
opposite. 43 "The more seriously a Christian strives to live from grace 
and submit to the discipline of the gospel, the more sensitive he 
becomes to the fact that even his very best acts and activities are 
disfigured by the egotism which is still powerful within him — and no 
less evil because it is often more subtly disguised than formerly." 
Yet this is no excuse for complacent Christian living, but even more 
of an exhortation to push forward in the Christian life. 45 The 
dilemma involves that which is willed contrasted to that which is 
done. This man wills and fails to do and does what he does not will. 

40 Cranfield, 1. 356. 

41 The Hebrew is the Hithpael 'ppiM. 

42 So J. Denney, "St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans," The Expos'tor's Greek 
Testament (5 vols.; reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976) 2. 641. 

43 Murray, Romans, 260-61. It is possible that the emphasis of victorious life 
teachings has led many to misunderstand this difficult text. 

44 Cranfield, Romans, 1. 358. 

45 For an excellent discussion of this important subject, see G. C. Berkouwer, Faith 
and Sanctification (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952) 59ff. 

46 G. Schrenk, "0e?uo" TDNT 3 (1965) 50. 


The willing and doing are irreconcilably opposed. "Willing" is 
linked with Ka-cepyti^ouai in vv 15, 18, and 20; 7ipdaaeiv in vv 15 
and 19; and rcoiEiv in vv 15, 16, 19,20, and 21. 

It is here (v 15) that Paul begins the series of contradictions 
which are taking place in his life. "For that which Paul is continually 
doing, he does not know." Paul, by ou yivcbaKco, probably does not 
mean "I do not know," but "1 do not delight in" or even better, "I do 
not understand." 4 

Paul knows what he is doing, but does not approve of it. This 
power of sin, to which he is enslaved, dominates him. Again it should 
be observed that he recognizes sin for what it is and is judging it as 
evil. This is an act which only a regenerate man can do — that is, to 
agree with God concerning sin. 

With Paul, the willing is present, but the doing is absent. Paul is 
willing to do good. "Willing" denotes "definite purpose and readiness 
to do the divine will" and is opposed by his "doing." 50 The verse ends 
with the phrase describing his hatred for his actions. He despises that 
which he is doing because it is opposed to the divine will of God. 

The problem is the indwelling sin, which not only existed and 
wrought in him, but had its abode in him, as it has in all those who 
are regenerated and will have so long as they are in the body. Paul's 
intention is not to escape from his responsibility for his actions, but 
rather "to show how completely he is under the thraldom of 
indwelling sin." 51 Man's history is so obviously in opposition to God 
that he must acknowledge in effect, "Adam is in me." 5 Such is 
Paul's statement in v 17, which is restated and amplified in vv 18-20. 

Murray identifies three propositions for vv 17 and 18: 

(1) The flesh is wholly sinful — no good thing dwells in it. 

(2) The flesh is still associated with his person — the flesh is his flesh 
and it is in him. 

(3) Sin is also associated with his person, for it is in his flesh that sin 

Sin is not external, but it is internal because it is "in my flesh." 
Flesh, therefore, should not be understood as an external, peripheral 

47 Ibid. 

48 Ibid. Also cf. C. Maurer. "Tipdaato" TDNT 4 (1967) 636-38. 
49 Cf. Murray, Romans, 261. 
50 Schrenk, "GeTiCD," 50. 
"Fung. "The Impotence of the Law," 43. 

52 R. Longenecker, The Ministry and Message of Paul (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 

Murray, Romans, 263. 


factor. 54 The meaning of "flesh" in Paul's thought is "the willing 
instrument of sin, and is subject to sin to such a degree that wherever 
flesh is, all forms of sin are likewise present and no good thing can 
live in the flesh." 55 

It is clear that the word has an ethical sense and refers to man or man's 
human nature, considered from the standpoint of his weakness and 
creaturely state in contrast to God, and also as the seat of sin . . . the 
flesh has absolutely no good in it. This is because it is ruled by the sin 
principle, not because there is inherent evil in the flesh. 56 

Flesh can have a purely neutral sense. It is because of its 
association with "sin" in vv 17 and 25 that it has this ethical sense. 
Dunn comments on Paul's usage of flesh: 

As is generally recognized, atipE, in Paul is not evil, otherwise he could 
not use it in a neutral sense, or speak of it being cleansed (2 Cor. 7:1). 
Flesh is not evil, it is simply weak and corruptible. It signifies man in 
his weakness and corruptibility, his belonging to the world. In 
particular it is that dimension of the human personality through which 
sin attacks, which sin uses as its instrument (Rom 7:5, 18,25) — thus 
octp^ apuapxitic,. That is to say, capt, dpuapxidt; does not signify guilty 
man, but man in his fallenness — man subject to temptation, to human 
appetites and desires, to death, The "sinful flesh" is nothing other than 
the "sinful body" (Rom 6:6), the "body doomed to death" (Rom. 7:24). 58 

Paul indeed desires to achieve what is good. But actually he 
achieves the evil which he does not desire, namely death. 59 He 
explains that there is a great contradiction between his principles and 
his conduct. The reason is that in his flesh there "dwells no good 
thing." In himself, he was entirely depraved. He was definitely a 
renewed man, but in his flesh, there was nothing good. 

The final verses bring about the conclusion to this difficult 
section. One of the features which makes the last five verses of 
chap. 7 especially problematic is the repeated use of the word "law." 
Also, the emphasis of the conflict is amplified with the usage of the 
military terms. The concluding verses have been viewed by many as 

54 F. Leenhardt, The Epistle to the Romans (London: Lutterworth, 1961) 191. 

55 BAGD, 751. 

56 S. Lewis Johnson, "A Survey of Biblical Psychology in the Epistle to the 
Romans," Unpublished Doctor of Theology Dissertation (Dallas: Dallas Theological 
Seminary, 1949) 75. 

"Cf. R. Jewett, Paul's Anthropological Terms (Leiden: Brill, 1971) 145ff. 
J. D. G. Dunn, "Paul's Understanding of the Death of Jesus," Reconciliation 
and Hope, ed. R. Banks (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 127-28. 

59 A. C. Thiselton, "Flesh," NIDNTT, 1. 676. 


the determining factors for the correct understanding of this passage. 
V 21 is used to introduce a conclusive statement, thus introducing the 
conclusion to the entire argument. 

The law is perceived by some as the Mosaic law, 60 but it seems 
best to explain it as a rule or principle of action. 61 The usage of the 
article with vouoc; in these verses does not mean that it refers to the 
Mosaic law necessarily. The adjective or genitive construction 
associated with "law" gives the correct identity. The law is to be 
interpreted to mean a principle in vv21,23, and 25. 62 

The genitival construction leaves no doubt that the "law" in v 22 
refers to the Mosaic law. The "other law" (v 23) is equated with the 
"law of sin" (v 23) or the sin principle. 63 This verse along with the 
present tenses, is a most deciding factor in determining the identifica- 
tion of "I" in this context as Paul in his regenerate experience. 

SuvT]8o(iai is an emotional statement and means, "I rejoice in." 
Barrett's "I agree with God's law." 64 is far too weak for the intent of 
the apostle. Delight in the law that is celebrated in Psalm 119 takes 
place in the inward man or inmost self. 65 

Paul delights in the law in his "inner man." It would seem 
reasonable to interpret the phrase "inner man" in the same manner as 
the similar usage in 2 Cor 4: 1 6. 66 It is the "inner man" which can 
delight in the law of God and also recognize the inner conflict which 
is being described. 67 The delight is not peripheral, but belongs to that 
which is deepest in his spiritual being. 68 Cranfield comments that the 
meaning of "inner man" 

must be much the same as that of 6 vovc, uou in v. 23 and 6 vovc, in 
v. 25, which must be understood in the light of the reference to the 
dvaKaivcoan; xoO vodc; in 12. 2. The mind which recognizes, and is 
bound to, God's law is the mind which is being renewed by God's 

°Cf. H. C. G. Moule, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University, 1892) 200. 

Cf. Sanday and Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle 
to the Romans (ICC; T. & T. Clark, reprinted, 1977) 182. 
62 H. H. Esser, "Law," NIDNTT 2. 443ff. 
Cf. R. St. John Parry, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1912) 107. 
64 Barrett, Romans, 150. 

65 Cf. Psa 19:8; 119:14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92. 

66 R. A. Harrisville, "Is the Coexistence of the Old and New Man Biblical?" The 
Luteran Quarterly 8 (Fall, 1956) 22. Also cf. Eph 3:16; 4:24; Col 3:10 and Rom 6:6. For 
an excellent discussion, cf. Jewett, Paul's Anthropological Terms, 39 Iff. 

G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

6 Murray, Romans, 266. 


Spirit; and the inner man of which Paul speaks is the working of 
God's Spirit within the Christian. 69 

The previous observations explain the antithetical role of the law 
of the mind and the law of sin. 7 "Another law" is obviously a law 
different from the law of God in v 22. The other law is waging war 
with the law of his mind. It also seems quite normal to understand 
"law of mind" to be the same as the "law of God." ' Bruce identifies 
the other law as the tyranny of indwelling sin 72 and thus is 
synonymous with the "law of sin." 3 

It is quite natural to understand "my mind" to mean "that which 
my mind acknowledges" 74 and to identify "the law of my mind" with 
"the law of God" (v 22). When understood in this manner, vv 22 
and 23 depict two laws in opposition to each other. 

In contrast, the law of sin represents the power, the authority, 
the control, exercised over believers. Thus the power of indwelling sin 
is warring and usurping the position of the Word of God; such is the 
essence of Paul's conflict. There are two laws or governing principles 
at war in his life. His faculties and powers are in enemy-occupied 
territory. Sin had invaded them and was fighting to stamp out every 
attempt at resistance — and succeeding again and again. "The strength 
of the expression is analagous to 'sold under sin' in verse 14 and 
should be interpreted in the same way." 75 He is thus led captive to the 
law of sin. This captivity is expressed in strong military language. 

The military figure of warfare is carried on and is expressed in 
the clauses "bringing me into captivity" and "waging war." Both 
terms are common in Pauline literature. 76 The indwelling sin is 
warring against the apostle and taking him captive in what he calls 
"my members." 

The meaning of this term should be viewed in the sense of the 
same usage in Rom 6:13, 19. Murray suggests: 

If the thought is focused on our physical members, as appeared 
necessary in the earlier instances, we are not to suppose that 'the law 
of sin' springs from or has its seat in the physical. It would merely 
indicate, as has been maintained already, that the apostle brings to the 

Cranfield, Romans 1. 363. 
70 Harrisville, "Coexistence," 26. 

7l It is best to understand two different laws and not four, as Calvin proposes. 
72 Bruce, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, 154. 
"Cranfield, Romans 1. 364. For a view which contrasts the interpretation given 
above, cf. Paul Tillich, "The Good I Will, I Do Not," USQR 14 (1959) 17-23. 
74 Ibid. 

75 Murray, Romans, 267. 
76 There are similar terms in Rom 7:8, 11; Gal 5:17; 2 Cor 10:5; and 1 Pet 2:11. 


forefront the concrete and overt ways in which the law of sin expresses 
itself and that our physical members cannot be divorced from the 
operation of the law of sin. Our captivity to the law of sin is evidenced 
by the fact that our physical members are the agents and instruments 
of the power which sin wields over us. But again we are reminded, as in 
6:13, that, however significant may be our physical members, the 
captivity resulting is not that merely of our members but that of our 
persons — 'bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my 
members.' 77 

Paul begins the final remarks to this section with "a wail of 
anguish and a cry for help." 78 The phrase "wretched man am I" is a 
nominative of exclamation. The nominative is used without a verb 
when it is used to stress great distinctness. Many commentators have 
stated quite dogmatically that it cannot be a Christian who speaks 
here. Some would like to view this as Paul looking back on days as a 
young Jew or a Pharisee. Longenecker describes this position. 

It has frequently been suggested that Paul had an unhappy adolescence, 
crushed under legalism and casuistry of his religion and longing for 
something of love and inwardnesss. This supposition is based in large 
measure on an autobiographical interpretation of Romans 7:7-25, where 
in Paul is viewed as describing a time in his boyhood when he came to 
realize the awful demands of the Law and was therefore plunged into a 
perpetual and fruitless struggle with an uneasy conscience. It has 
sometimes also been supposed that this tension was the basis for his 
persecution of Christians: that he was attempting to externalize the 
conflict within by identifying what he detested in himself with some 
other body and was trying to silence his doubts by activity. 79 

But such is not the case. This is an attempt to read some of the 
dramatic conversions like those of Augustine or Luther into Paul's 
experience. This is mere conjecture. Rather, it is better to view it as 
the height of one's spiritual condition. True spirituality is recognizing 
and judging sin in one's own life. This is the case when one views sin 
in his life as an offence toward a holy God and not just loss of 
personal victory! As one matures and progresses in his spiritual 
pilgrimage and knowledge of God, such will be the case. Granted that 
the word "wretched" indicates a state of distress, but it is not a state 
of hopelessness. 80 Cranfield's comments on this are excellent: 

"Murray, Romans, 268. 

78 E. H. Gifford, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (London: John Murray, 
1886) 143. 

79 Longenecker, The Ministry and Message of Paul, 29. 
80 Corley and Vaughan, Romans, 89. 


The truth is, surely, that inability to recognize the distress reflected in 
this cry as characteristic of Christian existence argues a failure to grasp 
the full seriousness of the Christian's obligation to express his gratitude 
to God by obedience of life. The farther men advance in the Christian 
life, and the more mature their discipleship, the clearer becomes their 
perception of the heights to which God calls them, and the more 
painfully sharp their consciousness of the distance between what they 
ought, and want, to be, and what they are. 81 

The greatest difficulty in this verse concerns the meaning of "who 
shall deliver me from the body of this death? " Even though "this" is 
taken with "body" in the NIV, NEB, and RSV, the emphasis seems to 
be on death and thus "this" should be taken with "death" (NASB). It 
is therefore properly used in a predicate construction. 

"Body" in v 24 refers to the material human organism, as in 
Rom 6:6. "Paul uses ocoun for human life enslaved to sin (Rom. 1:24; 
6:6; 7:24; 8: 10, 13; cf. Col. 3:5). 82 The body is not inherently sinful, 
but the sin principle is still operating in its members, the natural 
result of which is death. 

The emphasis of this passage seems to fall on "this death." It is 
"this death" which comes from the indwelling sin. Even though Paul 
is renewed and justified, death is still a reality. 83 Hence what Paul 
longs for is deliverance from sin in all its aspects and consequences. 
The body can be regarded as the body of this death — the bodily 
members are the sphere in which the law of sin is operative unto that 
death which is the wages of sin. 84 Barth concludes, "Indissolubly and 
undistinguishably one with his mortal body, he bears about with him 
always the reminder that he — yes, precisely he — must die." 85 

V 25 gives an indirect answer to the question of v 24. The 
deliverance is to be taken as future in the resurrection (Rom 8:23; 
1 Cor 15:57). Fung, however, opts for a present deliverance which is 
available from the sin which dominates him. 86 He supposes a change 
of speaker between v 24, which he views as the Christian, and v 25, 
whom he understands to be Paul. 87 This presents quite a difficulty in 
his exegesis. Thus, it is proper to apprehend deliverance as future. It 

Cranfield, Romans 1. 366. It is a picture of honesty in the Christian life. There 
seems to be no reason to view this phrase as Paul looking back on his days as a 

R. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology With Emphasis on Pauline Anthropology 
(SNTSMS 29; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1976) 36. 

83 Cf. Rom 6:23; 8: Iff. Paul knew that future deliverance was a reality (8:23). 

84 T. Barrosse, "Death and Sin in Saint Paul's Epistle," CBQ 15 (1953) 438-59. 

85 K. Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (Oxford: Oxford University, 1933) 269. 

86 Fung, "The Impotence of the Law," 45. 



is true because v 25b would seem to sum up the present experience. 
This section concerns the struggle with indwelling sin which 
characterizes the normal Christian condition. Those who advocate 
v 25a as a present deliverance have no answer for Paul's summary 
statement in v 25b. 

The indirect answer suggests that the speaker knows either that 
God has already fulfilled for him the wish expressed by the question 
or that God will surely fulfill it for him in the future. He has not been 
delivered but he knows that God will surely deliver him from it in the 
future. The key to the right understanding of v 25a is the recognition 
that the man who speaks in v 24 is already a Christian, for that saves 
us from the necessity of conjecturing a drastic change between vv 24 
and 25a. 

The previous understanding prevents the embarrassment of 
having to ignore v 25b or view it as a textual gloss. 88 Therefore, far 
from being an anticlimatic or incongruous intrusion, it is a summing 
up of the entire argument begun at v 14. 

Auxdc; eycb is translated "I myself" and not "I by myself" or "left 
to myself" (NEB margin). The latter translations view v 25a as a 
present delivery from the indwelling sin and then 25b as harking back 
to the prior state of 25a when the believer who lives at a lower level of 
spirituality or even the unbeliever is again left to himself. This is a 
definite misunderstanding of Paul's summary phrase. The reiteration 
of vv 14-24 in v 25b indicates that the triumphant thanksgiving in the 
early part of the verse does not itself bring to an end the conflict 
which has been described. The warfare continues, but Paul is upheld 
and strengthened because of the confident assurance that finally there 
will be complete deliverance. 

The text is gripped with tension. It paints for the readers a 
picture of the Christian life with all its anguish and its simultaneous 
hopefulness. This is the struggle with which the Christian is involved 
throughout his life. Deliverance is promised, but it is an eschatalogi- 
cal hope. The interpretation is not to be taken as an excuse for a 
slothful Christian life or for a life of continual sinning. Such a view 
would be quite out of line with the rest of Holy Scripture. Yet the 
present tenses indicate that this state is characteristic of the Christian 
throughout his life. The recognition of the law as good and spiritual 
and the determined will to practice the good are evidences that this 
passage speaks of a regenerate man. The continuance of indwelling 
sin is the reason that the struggle is one which remains for the 
believer in this present life. At the same time, it is the picture of a 
man constantly and honestly persevering for the good. 

E.g., J. Moffatt, The New Testament: A New Translation (New York: Harper 
and Brothers, 1950). 


Both the struggle of chap, seven and the deliverance of chap, 
eight are true and real in the believer's life. Although Paul speaks 
autobiographically of the tensions of life as he experienced them, it 
is apparent that he speaks by implication for all who have the 
struggle and need for God's guidance and blessing. 89 


It has become widely accepted that Paul's soteriology is 
characterized by an "already/ not yet" tension, the eschatological 
tension present between the "already" of Jesus' resurrection and the 
"not yet" of his napouaia. 90 The believer is caught between fulfillment 
and consummation. The old age of flesh is still in existence, even 
though the new age of resurrection has already begun. No one has 
elaborated this aspect of Pauline theology more helpfully than Oscar 
Cullmann: "It is characteristic of all N.T. salvation history that 
between Christ's resurrection and his return there is an interval, the 
essence of which is determined by this tension." 

This tension is very much present in the Christian experience of 
grace, particularly as it relates to the theology of Rom 7:14-25. For 
Paul, the Christian experience is a continuing experience of death as 
well as of life. 92 The present experience of the believer is characterized 
by weakness, suffering, and death. This is clearly seen in other 
passages, such as Rom 8:17,2 Cor 12:9; 2 Cor 4:7-5:5, and Phil 3:10-14. 

Romans 7 is man as flesh, man in his frailty, mortality, cor- 
ruptibility, man as heading for a death which he cannot escape. 

'The body is dead because of sin' (8, 10), because death entered the 
world through sin, as the consequence and outcome of sin (5, 12). Here 
it becomes evident that 'death' for Paul has a spectrum of meaning 
similar to that of odph, — that is, it includes both a physical connotation 
(death of the body) and a moral connotation (man as sinner dead to 
God, the believer as having the responsibility to kill the deeds of the 
body — 8, 13). The death and dying which Paul welcomes is a complex 
experience of the frailty and corruption of the physical and the 
suffering of persecution, of the deadness of one dimension of the 
personality through sin and the mortification of selfishness. He welcomes 
it because this dying is for him a participation in Christ's sufferings, a 
growing conformity even to Christ's death, as so holds promise of a 
growing participation in Christ's resurrection power and ultimate 

G. Vanderlip, Paul and Romans (Valley Forge: Judson, 1967) 59. 

Cf. G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1972) 110-15. 

91 0. Cullmann, Salvation in History (London: SCM, 1967) 202. 

92 J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975) 55. 


resurrection like his. It is the recognition of this spectrum of meaning of 
both atip£, and "death" in Paul's thought that enables us to appreciate 
more fully the paradox of Christian experience for Paul. 93 

Our entire Christian life is to be lived in the light of the tension 
between what we already are in Christ and what we hope to be some 
day. 94 Thus, the already/ not yet balance in Paul's soteriology must be 
maintained. This is quite different from the popular view advocated 
by men who view Rom 7:14-25 as the experience of the Christian who 
is living at a level of the Christian life which can be left behind, who 
is still trying to live the Christian life either under the law or in his 
own strength. Conversion is only the beginning; the new has not 
swallowed up the old. While it is true that Paul says "we died to sin" 
(Rom6:2ff; Gal 2:19; Col 2:1 1, 20; 3:3), death is not an event past 
and gone in the believer's experience. 95 Rather it is an emphasis of the 
"already" aspect just as the "not yet" aspect is seen in Rom 8: 10; 
2 Cor 4: 10; and Phil 3: 10ff. 96 The balance in Paul's theology must be 
maintained. To overemphasize either aspect leads to perfectionism or 

The struggle in which the Christian is involved is a life-long one. 
Hoekema comments: 

To be sure, we cannot attain sinless perfection in this life. But our 
continuing imperfection does not give us an excuse for irresponsible 
living nor imply that we may just stop trying to do what is pleasing to 
God. We can, in fact, continue to live with the not yet only in light of 
the already. 97 

The Christian never reaches a state of perfection in this life, nor is he 
ever freed from life /death tension. 98 The believer remains in the 
conflict of which he is ever aware and responsible. Even though he 
wills to do God's will and is constantly exerting himself onward, the 
only way of escape is death. 99 

93 J. D. G. Dunn, "Romans 7:14-25 in the Theology of Paul," TZ 31 (1975)270. 
A. Hoekema, "Already, Not Yet: Christian Living in Tension" The Reformed 
Journal 29 (1979) 18. 

95 Ibid. 

96 Cf. H. Ridderbos, Paul, An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1975) 267-72. 

97 Hoekema, "Already, Not Yet," 16. 

98 David Needham's new work, Birthright, comes dangerously close to teaching 
absolute perfectionism. 

It should be mentioned that the admonitions such as Rom 8:13, etc., must be 
taken seriously. The Christian must persevere in this struggle so as not to be 
characterized as living according to the flesh. Yet the complete transformation does not 


Finally, this aspect of Paul's theology must be included in the 
church's proclamation. "Proclamation of a gospel which promises 
only pardon, peace and power will result in converts who sooner or 
later become disillusioned or deceitful about their Christian 
experience." 100 While this understanding is not an excuse for slothful 
living, the believer need not be depressed nor conclude that grace has 
lost the struggle. On the contrary, the struggle is an indication of life 
for the believer. The true, persevering believer will be constantly 
struggling with this indwelling sin and judging its manifestations as 
an offence toward a holy God. The tension of the struggle, the 
paradox of life and death, must be maintained to the end. Rom 7:24 
is the life-long cry of frustration; 7:25a is his thanksgiving of 
eschatological hope; and 7:25b is the expression of realism. Paul's 
conflict is not a picture representing only a minority of the regenerate 
community, but of the whole church struggling with the tension of sin 
and constantly in need of God's enablement and blessing. 

take place until the consummation. David Wenham's "The Christian Life: A Life of 
Tension?— A Consideration of the Nature of Christian Experience in Paul" in Pauline 
Studies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) 80ff. has grasped the seriousness of maintaining 
the Pauline tension. 

1 Dunn, "Romans 7:14-25 in the Theology of Paul," 273. 




John C. Whitcomb 

It has often been said, and I believe with truth, that those who shun 
the study of biblical languages will find themselves at the mercy of 
the translators. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the 
Hebrew OT, as may be seen by the discussions that have been 
provoked by recent translations of the OT. 

One purpose of this study is to encourage an interest in the study 
of Hebrew exegesis for the purpose of determining the exact meaning 
of the OT text. Another purpose is to show how the study of one 
Hebrew word can help to unlock the mysteries of one of the most 
fascinating prophecies of the entire OT: the Seventy- Weeks Prophecy 
of Daniel. 

The first great problem that confronts us as we seek the 
interpretation of this prophecy, is the meaning of the Hebrew word 
1713$, which is translated in our English versions by the word 
"week." We must now examine the entire prophecy as found in 
Dan 9:24-27, and as translated in the New American Standard Bible, 
calling special attention to the word "week," which appears six times 
within the four verses: 

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy 
city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make 
atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up 
vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to 
know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and 
rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks 
and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even 
in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be 
cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come 
will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a 
flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in 
the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; 


and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, 
even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on 
the one who makes desolate. 

Our problem is to determine how long a period of time is 
intended by this word: whether a week of days, as the most common 
usage of the word would suggest, or whether, perhaps, it is intended 
to be a week of years, as the immediate context would seem to 
demand. The problem is intensified by the fact that nowhere else in 
the OT, when the word is used by itself, does it mean anything else 
than a week of days} 

In seeking a solution to this interesting and important problem, 
we shall study the word 1HDUJ ("week") in the light of analogous 
Hebrew usage, comparative chronology, and the context of biblical 


The dictionary definition of our English word "week" is "a 
period of seven successive days." 2 This is not true of the Hebrew 
SHSUJ. Its literal meaning is "a unit of seven." 3 It has no primary 
reference to time periods at all, whether of days or years. In other 
words, it is simply a numerical measure. Let us demonstrate what we 
mean by examining a similar Hebrew word. The word TiitW would 
seem to have the basic meaning of "ten days," because that is its 
correct translation in thirteen out of the sixteen times it appears in 
the Old Testament. 4 But on three occasions it does not mean "ten 
days" at all, but rather "ten strings" or "an instrument of ten strings": 
Psa 33:2, 92:3, (92:4, Heb.), 144:9. 5 Therefore, the word "llttW must 
mean "decad" or "unit of ten," and whether it means "ten days" or 
"ten strings" must be determined entirely by the context, not by the 
word itself. 6 

'The noun STOW appears 20 times in 17 verses: Gen 29:27, 28; Exod 34:22; 
Lev 12:5; Num 28:26^ Deut 16:9(2x), 10, 16; 2Chr8:13; Jer 5:24; Ezek 45:21; Dan 
9:24, 5(2x), 26, 27(2x), 10:2, 3. See Gerhard Lisowsky, Konkordanz zum Hebraischen 
Alten Testament (Stuttgart: Wurttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1958) 1395-96. 
The American College Dictionary, 1964 ed., s.v. "week." 

3 See BDB, 988-89; William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon 
of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 358; KB, 940. 

4 The noun "rftP» refers to days in Gen 24:55; Exod 12:3; Lev 6:29, 23:27, 25:9; 
Num29:7; Josh 4:19^ 2Kgs25:l; Jer 52:4, 12; Ezek 20:1, 24:1, 40:1. See Lisowsky, 
Konkordanz, 1137. 

5 Ibid. 

6 See BDB, 797; Holladay, Lexicon, 285; KB, 741. 


On the basis of analogous Hebrew usage, therefore, we find that 
our word JTISUJ may have the basic meaning of "heptad" or "unit of 
seven," even as "littW must mean "decad" or "unit of ten." This 

7 T 

possibility is greatly strengthened by the fact that JTOUJ appears three 
times in the OT with the word Cft^ ("days") added, as though to 
imply that 5^2$ by itself was not sufficient to show that a period of 
seven days was intended. 7 The most interesting point, however, is that 
two of these three combinations of !H2ttJ and WW appear in the 
second and third verses of Daniel 10, 8 immediately following the 
Seventy Weeks prophecy of the preceding chapter, as though to warn 
the reader that V'MW is now being used in a different sense! 


If the Seventy Weeks prophecy refers to weeks (sevens) of years, 
we are then dealing with a time-span of seventy sevens of years, or 
490 years. Now according to the second verse of this same ninth 
chapter of Daniel, the prophet Daniel had been studying the prophecy 
of Jer 25:11-12, which stated that Israel's captivity in Babylon would 
last for exactly seventy years. It was because this seventy-year period 
had now come to an end that Daniel began to pray for the deliverance 
of his people Israel, in accordance with Jeremiah's prophecy. 

The full significance of the seventy-year captivity in Babylon 
does not come to light, however, until we consider some explanatory 
passages in Leviticus and 2 Chronicles. Lev 25:2-5 states that every 
seventh year the children of Israel were to observe "a sabbath of rest" 
for the land, during which time they were neither to sow their fields 
nor prune their vineyards for an entire year. Then in chap. 26, 
w 34, 35, and 43, a solemn warning was added, that if this command- 
ment was not obeyed, the people would be sent into captivity, and the 
land would be left desolate for a number of years equal to the number 
of sabbath-rest years that they failed to observe. 

Now when we turn to the account of Jerusalem's destruction by 
Nebuchadnezzar in 2 Chronicles 36, we read in v 21 that the purpose 
of the captivity was "to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of 
Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its 
desolation it kept sabbath, until seventy years were complete." On the 
basis of these passages, therefore, we may conclude that the seventy- 
year captivity of Israel in Babylon came about as a result of a lax 
attitude toward the Law of Moses, as evidenced by her failure to 

7 The terms ^12$ and D? occur together in Ezek 45:21; Dan 10:2, and 10:3. See 
Lisowsky, Konkordanz, 1 195. 
8 Ibid. 


observe a total of seventy different Levitical sabbath-rest years, over a 
period of 490 years. 

These facts lead us to make the following observation: if 490 years 
of disobedience had brought about 70 years of punishment, is it not 
probable that the testing-period for Israel which was now announced 
to Daniel would cover another 490 years, instead of 490 daysl How 
could all of the events described in this prophecy have taken place 
within a period of less than seventeen months (490 days)? And what 
comfort would it have brought to Daniel and his people to be told 
that only a year and a half after the termination of the Babylonian 
Captivity, their city would be destroyed again? And, finally, where in 
the history of this period can a destruction of the city and sanctuary 
be seen? Comparative chronology, therefore, makes it probable that 
sevens of years, rather than sevens of days, is to be understood by the 
word S712UJ in this prophecy. 


Turning first to Dan 7:25, we read of the coming of a wicked 
person who "will speak out against the Most High . . . and he will 
intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given 
into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Our purpose here is 
not to discuss the identity of this person but to determine the 
meaning of the phrase, "a time, times, and half a time," which 
appears not only here, but also in Dan 12:7 and Rev 12:14. 

It is in Revelation 12 that we discover the clear interpretation of 
that phrase. The fourteenth verse reads as follows: "The two wings 
of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might 
fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a 
time and times and half a time." Comparing this with v 6, we read: 
"And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place 
prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one 
thousand two hundred and sixty days." This same period of tribula- 
tion is mentioned also in Rev 1 1:3 as being 1260 days in length, while 
in 11:2 and 13:5 it is given as 42 months. It is, of course, a matter of 
simple arithmetic to demonstrate that 1260 days is equivalent to 42 
thirty-day months, or approximately three and a half years. This 
proves conclusively that the phrase "time and times and half a time" 
in biblical prophecy means three and a half years, or, in other words, 
"a year and two years and half a year." 

It goes without saying that this particular time period, which is 
mentioned in seven different texts, in three different ways, and in two 
different books, must play a tremendously important part in biblical 
prophecy. With this in mind, let us turn once again to Daniel's 


Seventy Weeks prophecy. The last part of Dan 9:26 speaks of a 
person who will bring great destruction to the land and people of 
Israel, especially with regard to Jerusalem and its Temple. Carrying 
this thought a bit further, the prophecy goes on to explain in v 27 
that "he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but 
in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain 
offering; . . . even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is 
poured out on the one who makes desolate." 

The laws of biblical interpretation demand that single verses or 
passages of prophecy be interpreted in the light of their immediate 
context, and ultimately in the light of the entire context of biblical 
prophecy. Applying this tried and proven principle to the passage 
under consideration, is it not evident that the destructive person 
mentioned here is the same as the one in Daniel 7 and also in 
Revelation? And is it not likewise evident that we have the same 
period of tribulation here as in the other passages, which we have 
shown elsewhere to be three and a half years in length? If the 
probability of these assumptions be admitted, then we are led to 
the conclusion that the word l?12ttJ in Daniel's Seventy-Weeks 
prophecy means a period of seven years, not seven days. 

Our reason for saying this is not hard to see. Dan 9:27 represents 
this person as making a covenant with many people that lasts for 
seven time-units. Then, in the midst of this period, which would 
correspond to the three and a half time-unit mark, he breaks the 
covenant and brings about a period of tribulation which lasts for the 
remaining three and a half time-units until "the full end, and that 
determined." Since the time period of tribulation in the other 
passages is definitely three and a half years in length, does it not seem 
reasonable to suppose that the three and a half time-units of tribula- 
tion in the prophecy are likewise years! 

These three different converging lines of reasoning have finally 
brought us to the place where we can say with confidence that while 
the Hebrew word JHSUJ, meaning "unit of seven," has reference to 
days in most of its OT occurrences because of the demands of 
context, it has reference to years in the ninth chapter of Daniel, 
likewise because of the demands of context. A careful study of this 
interesting Hebrew word has thus laid for us a solid foundation upon 
which we may build our further study of one of the most fascinating 
prophecies in the entire Bible. 


Richard E. Averbeck 

An investigation into the ideology of water lustration and/ or 
baptism in the Hebrew OT, the LXX, the Mishnah and Talmud, the 
Qumran Manual of Discipline, and NT passages relating to the 
baptism of John the Baptist and Christian baptism leads to the 
conclusion that Christian baptism should be understood as being 
oriented toward commitment. More than being a means by which the 
initiate declared that he had trusted in Christ for eternal salvation, it 
was particularly associated with repentance and discipleship. In the 
apostolic age, to be baptized into Jesus the Christ was to make a 
commitment to Him as Lord and Master and to declare that one 
would adhere faithfully to the lifestyle expected of Christ's disciples. 

Baptism is an issue around which many discussions have taken 
place. There are conflicts concerning mode (immersion versus 
sprinkling, etc.). Some are concerned with the issue of adult versus 
infant baptism. Another issue concerns the efficacy of the act itself 
(i.e., whether it is the occasion for the work of God in regenerating a 
person or a testimony of the fact that this regeneration has already 
taken place, etc.). Certain groups within ecclesiastical circles deal with 
it on an altogether different level. They are concerned about the issue 
of baptism because of the difficulties that it presents for their 
ecumenical efforts. How can groups that disagree on external form as 
well as the meaning of the rite itself be meaningfully united? 1 

It is self-evident that the issues which are crystallized and dis- 
cussed in relation to baptism within any given circle depend upon the 

*A11 biblical passages quoted in this article are taken from the New American Standard 
Bible (NASB) unless otherwise stated. 

'See for example the articles in Rev Exp 77:1 (1980) 3-108, wherein contributions 
are made from various perspectives. The collection as a whole is put into the context of 
a search for common ecumenical ground. 


overall theological framework, ecclesiastical tradition, and/ or con- 
temporary concerns of that specific circle or group of believers. There 
tends to be a certain vested concern with which the particular person 
or group becomes preoccupied. This is natural and not necessarily 
wrong. However, sometimes these vested concerns have the effect of 
misdirecting our attention. 

The goal of this article is to make an effort to understand the 
essential thrust of Christian baptism in the context of the day in 
which it was instituted. This does not mean that the writer has no 
interest in such issues as mode. But such concerns could be ap- 
proached with more finesse if founded upon a proper understanding 
of the background and implications of the rite at its foundation. 

There are many avenues of influence that preconditioned or 
informed the essential meaning and implications of Christian bap- 
tism. Thus, we begin with the OT and move from there to mainline 
Judaism (as reflected in the Mishnah and Talmud). Next comes 
Qumran and finally John the Baptist. Before this, however, it is 
necessary to give a general summary of the NT words around which 
this issue revolves and their patterns of usage 


There are five different words found in the NT which are built on 
this root: two verbs and three nouns. The two verbs are pti7rcco 
(3 occurrences) and Panxi^co (77 occurrences). The -ti^co ending of the 
latter stands out. Oepke 2 calls it "intensive." Moulton refers to these 
types of verbs as intensive or iterative. 3 

It is significant that the three occurrences of ptiTrcoo in the NT 
mean to "dip" in a literal sense (Luke 16:24; John 13:26; Rev 19:13; 
this last reference may mean "to dye"). 4 On the other hand, PanTi^co 
is used always or almost always in the cultic sense of Jewish washings 
(Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38), the baptism of John (26 times in the gospels 
and 3 times in Acts), the baptism which Jesus and/ or his disciples 
performed during his public ministry (John 3:22, 26; 4:1, 2) and 
Christian baptism whether with (?) 5 the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11, 14; 
Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16) or with (?) water 
(Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16; 6 1 Cor 1:13, 14, 15, 16 [twice], 17; 15:29 
[twice]; and 15 times in Acts). There are certain passages that are 

2 A. Oepke, "pdTrrco, pajtiiCco," TDNT 1 (1964) 530. 

J. H Moulton, W. F. Howard, and N. Turner, A Grammar of New Testament 
Greek (4 vols; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1920), 2. 408. 
"Oepke, TDNT 1. 530. 

There is a question concerning the handling of the preposition here. 

My reference to this passage does not mean that I am sure of its authenticity. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 267 

debated as to whether they refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit or 
that of water (Rom 6:3 [twice]; Gal 3:27). The author of this article 
has come to the conclusion that these later passages refer primarily to 
water baptism, and these texts will be discussed in depth below. 

There are a few occurrences of the verb which cannot be called 
strictly cultic. These are the metaphorical usages found in Mark 
10:38, 39, and Luke 12:50. However, it may well be that the metaphor 
was derived from the ritual of water baptism as it was performed by 
John and our Lord during their days of ministry. This could explain 
why fianxiC,® was used in these contexts. Particularly interesting for 
other reasons is the use of the verb in 1 Cor 10:2. This will be taken 
up later. 

There has been much ado about the combination of fianxi^ay 
with the preposition ei<;. They occur together twice in reference to the 
baptism of John (Matt 3:11 "for repentance" and Mark 1:9 "in the 
Jordan"). The references to Christian baptism in which this verb/ 
preposition combination is used are eight in number (Matt 28:19 "in 
the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"; Acts 2:38 
"for the forgiveness of your sins"; Acts 8:16 and 19:5 "in the name of 
the Lord Jesus"; Rom 6:3 (twice) ". . . all of us who have been 
baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death"; Gal 
3:27 "into Christ"; 1 Cor 12:13 "into one body"). There are four other 
occurrences of this combination (Acts 19:3; 1 Cor 1:13, 15; 1 Cor 
10:2). These references are significant and bear directly upon the NT 
baptismal ideology but will be dealt with later on in this article. It is 
sufficient here to point out that this construction apparently became 
somewhat standard as part of the Christian baptismal formula (Matt 
28:19; Acts 8:16; 19:5; probably also reflected in Rom 6:3 and Gal 
3:27). Yet, there are indications that in many cases sic; is actually 
equivalent to sv in the locative sense (compare for example eic; for "in 
the name of the Lord Jesus" with Acts 10:48 where ev is used). Nigel 
Turner has stated the point well: 

The Pauline and Johannine epistles and Rev (in spite of its Semitic 
character) do not often confuse local ev and eic,. This is important for 
the exegete, because in Mt, the epistles, and Rev we can always 
presume that eic, has its full sense even where one might suspect that it 
stood for ev (e.g. Mt 28:19 baptism into the name, i.e. a relationship as 
the goal of baptism; . . .). 7 

Thus, Turner would say that eic; in Matt 28:19 and Rom 6:3 has 
special implications which ev could not have carried. A. T. Robert- 
son, on the other hand, seems to differ on this point. He says that the 

Moulton, Howard, and Turner, Grammar, 3. 255. 


idea of motion "into" or "unto" comes in the association of eic; with 
verbs of motion. 8 He goes on to say that with regard to Matt 28:19 
and Rom 6:3 "the notion of sphere is the true one." 9 His conclusion is 
that sometimes eic, appears in a context which indicates that it is 
being used to indicate purpose or aim. However, according to him, 
this is more a matter for the interpreter than for the grammarian to 
decide. 10 Blass and Debrunner seem to be saying that f5a7rci^(o uses 
eic, to ovoua the same as ev tco ovouom." 

It is apparent that there is no hard and fast conclusion on this 
issue, but its significance for the development of the thesis in this 
article is great. Though the full impact of the arguments themselves 
cannot be felt until later on in the discussion, some writers have 
reasoned like Turner and by that route have come to see Panxi^co eic; 
as pointing forward to discipleship 12 rather than backward to the 
salvation experience. I agree with this emphasis upon the forward 
look but am not sure about the degree to which it should be based 
upon this verb/ preposition combination. 

The three nouns built on this root are f3d7maua (19 occurrences, 
unless Col 2:12 be included, which would make it 20), Pcnmauoc; 
(4 occurrences, unless Col 2:12 be excluded, which would make it 3), 
and Bcama-nic; (12 occurrences). 

fiamTiGTr\c, is used only in the synoptic gospels ("John the 
baptist''''). Oepke writes: 

. . . this description, specially coined for the precursor of Jesus and 
used only of him, shows that his appearing was felt to be new and 
unique, especially as he did not baptise himself but, contrary to all 
Jewish tradition, baptised others. 13 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman. 1934) 591. 

9 Ibid., 592. 

10 Ibid., 594-95. 
F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament (trans, 
and rev. by R. W. Funk; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1961) 112. 

l2 For example: J. Murray (The Epistle to the Romans [2 vols; NICNT; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959], 1. 214) writes: "Baptism 'into Christ Jesus' means baptism 
into union with Christ. To be baptized 'into Moses' (I Cor 10:2) is to be baptized into 
the discipleship of Moses or into the participation of the privileges which the Mosaic 
economy entailed. To be baptized 'into the name of Paul' (I Cor 1:13) is to be baptized 
into the discipleship of Paul, a suggestion which Paul violently rejects. To be baptized 
'into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost' (Matt 28:12) is to 
be baptized into the fellowship of the three persons of the Godhead. Hence baptism 
into Christ signifies simply union with Him and participation of all the privileges which 
he as Christ Jesus embodies." I would add that we are not only given privileges in this 
union, but also obligations. 

13 Oepke, TDNT 1. 545. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 269 

Thus, this title was particularly significant. 

The two remaining nouns are used only in reference to cultic 
washings, whether Jewish or Christian. PaTtiiauot; is thought of as 
"signifying the act alone" while pdnTiaua refers to "the act with the 
result, and therefore the institution." 14 The latter of the two has not 
been found anywhere outside of the NT. Within the NT it is used of 
the ministry of John thirteen times (four of these are in the combina- 
tion "baptism of repentance"; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4). 
Three times it is used metaphorically (Mark 10:38, 39; Luke 12:50). In 
four passages (and maybe just three, if Col 2:12 be excluded on text- 
critical grounds) it is used in reference to Christian baptism (Rom 6:4; 
Eph 4:5; 1 Pet 3:21). It may well be that this word arose as a nominal 
counterpart to PaTrri^co in its NT context and was in fact coined 
because of the unique ministry of John the Baptist. 15 

Much along the same line as his remark on PaTmorrjc; quoted 
above, Oepke writes concerning pti7moua: 

Since the NT either coins or reserves for Christian baptism (and its 
precursor) a word which is not used elsewhere and has no cultic 
connections, and since it always uses it in the sing, and never sub- 
stitutes the term employed elsewhere, we can see that, in spite of all 
apparent or relative analogies, it understands the Christian action to be 
something new and unique. 16 

Though his statement is essentially correct, there is one necessary 
alteration to be made. It would be more correct to say that John's 
baptism was seen as "something new and unique" and the Christian 
perpetuation of the act simply reflects that both the nature of John's 
baptism and the implications of it retained their pertinence even in 
the new age. This alteration is important if we are to understand the 
background and essential thrust of Christian baptism in the apostolic 

The word Panxiauot;, on the other hand, is used three times of 
Jewish washings (Mark 7:4; Heb 6:2; 9:10). There is dispute over 
whether Heb 6:2 refers to Jewish washings or not. The view of this 
writer is that it probably does refer to Jewish practices. There will be 
more discussion below. Col 2:12 presents an altogether different kind 
of problem. The editors of the third edition of the United Bible 
Societies' Greek New Testament have opted for the more difficult 
reading (PcnmauG)) as opposed to the word that would be expected 

5 Ibid. 
6 Ibid. 


on the basis of usage elsewhere in the NT (f3a7rcio~ucm). It is 
obviously precarious to depend too heavily upon either choice here in 
developing an understanding of baptism in the NT. 

This survey of word usage has been made simply for purposes of 
exposure to the material available in the NT itself. There will be an 
extended discussion of some of these issues and passages below. 
However, before such a task can be undertaken, it is important to 
look back into the biblical, religious, and cultural context within 
which the rite arose. 


The cultural and religious context at the time of our Lord's 
earthly ministry requires that a number of factors be considered in 
the study of baptism. The LXX, in which PcutTG), fia7rxi^co, and 
Pcrnioc; are used, will be considered first, followed by a survey of the 
Mishnaic and Talmudic sources on the subject, and a discussion of 
the issue of baptism (or cleansings) at Qumran. With this background 
in the OT, Judaism, and Qumran clearly in mind we will take a close 
look at the ministry and ministrations of John the Baptist. The 
Hellenistic use of (3a7ni^(D will not be discussed in this section but will 
be mentioned in connection with the exegesis of certain NT passages 
in the next major section. 


The verb (3d7tTO) occurs sixteen times in the LXX and twice in the 
Theodotionic version of Daniel (Dan 4:30 and 5:21 according to the 
versification of the Aramaic text). In both of the Daniel texts the 
word is used to render Aramaic VSt?^ (Hithpaal of 5732?, translated 
"was drenched") in the clause "his body was drenched with the dew of 

Thirteen of the sixteen times in which fianxw is used in the LXX 
it is a translation of Hebrew 7?D, which normally means "to dip." It 
is used of "dipping" hyssop into blood (Exod 12:22) or water (Num 
19:18). On several occasions a priestly procedure requires that the 
priest "dip" his finger and/ or other materials into the blood of a 
slaughtered animal as part of a ritual (Lev 4:6, 17; 9:9 as part of the 
sin offering ritual; Lev 14:6, 16, 51 as part of the ritual dealing with 
leprosy). It is also used of dipping a foot into oil (Deut 33:24), the 
feet into the edge of the Jordan River (Josh 3:15), food into vinegar 
(Ruth 2:14), a staff into honey (1 Sam 14:27), and a garment into 

1 B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London 
and New York: United Bible Societies, 1971) 623. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism IN THE NT 271 

water (2 Kgs 8:15). Of particular interest is Lev 11:32 where the 
Hebrew X2V D^? (Hophal of Ni2: lit. "it shall be brought into the 
water") is rendered by sic; u5cop Pacpr^asxai. 

It is obvious from this survey that the verb fianxa) means 
basically "to dip" into some specified liquid. The usage in Daniel is 
no obstacle to this since the logic of the passage is that the king 
became as wet as if he had been dipped into a pool of water. Such is 
the reasoning behind the rendering "drenched." Primco is used poeti- 
cally in Job 9:31. Ps 68:23 is textually problematic. 

Greek Pa7rr6<; occurs once in the LXX in Ezek 23:15 where it 
might be considered an incorrect translation. 18 ^anxiC,a> is used twice 
in the canonical OT (2 Kgs 5:14 and Isa 21:2) and twice in the 
Apocrypha (Jdt 12:7 and Greek Sir 31 [34]: 25). The translator(s) of 
Isa 21:4 rendered the Hebrew "^nHS?? m^/E) "horror overwhelms 
me" by r\ dvouia ue PaTrci^ei "lawlessness overwhelms me." 19 The 
significance of this passage is that it may reflect a usage similar to the 
metaphorical use of Pcum^co in the NT (Mark 10:38, 39 and Luke 

Jdt 12:7 and Sir 31 (34): 25 are interesting in that PaTrci^co is used 
in reference to cleansing from levitical impurity. The passages and 
relevant context are quoted from The New English Bible: 

Jdt 12:5-9 

Holophernes' attendants brought her into the tent; and she slept until 
midnight. Shortly before the morning watch she got up and sent this 
message to Holophernes: 'My lord, will you give orders for me to be 
allowed to go out and pray?' Holophernes ordered his bodyguard to let 
her pass. She remained in the camp for three days, going out each 
night into the valley of Bethulia and bathing in the spring. When she 
came up from the spring, she prayed the Lord, the God of Israel, to 
prosper her undertaking to restore her people. Then she returned to the 
camp purified, and remained in the tent until she took her meal 
towards evening. 

18 The translator could have mistaken D'TOP "turbans" in the phrase 'ITnp 
arPUfona O'VOtt "flowing turbans on their heads" for a form of BDB I Vat? "to 
dip." On the other hand, D , 7lDip may refer to colored cloth and be derived from 7DIJ 
"to dip" used in the sense of to dip into dye (cf. C. F. Keil, biblical Commentary on the 
Prophecies of Ezekiel [2 vols., reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976], 1. 325-26). 
This would then make the LXX use of fianxoc, appropriate since it can mean "dipped, 
dyed; bright-coloured" (LSJ, p. 306). The real question here has to do more with the 
Hebrew word and its relationship or lack of it than with the Greek rendering. 

Symmachus rendered it r| dvouia ue Kai f\ duapTia ue Pcm-ci^ei "lawlessness and 
sin overwhelm me." Both the LXX and Symmachus use (3a7tTi^(0 to translate the Piel 
stem of the verb flSH which means "to fall upon, overwhelm, terrify." 


Sir 31(34): 25-26 

Wash after touching a corpse and then touch it again, and what have 
you gained by your washing? So it is with the man who fasts for his 
sins and goes and does the same again; who will listen to his prayer? 
what has he gained by his penance? 

Therefore, though fianxiC,® is not used in the canonical OT for 
cleansing from levitical impurity, it seems clear from these two texts 
that such was not the case later on. The association of this verb with 
this type of impurity may well have made itself felt in certain passages 
in the NT (for example, Acts 22:16). 

The story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 is well-known. V 14 reads: 

So he went down and dipped [ePa7n:ioaTo] himself seven times in the 
Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was 
restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean pnp?Y). 

The implications of this text for the issue of mode are obvious. 
However, there is another important point here. The verb "IHD "to be 
clean" is regularly used to describe levitical purity and purification 
(see Lev 14:20 and many other examples there and elsewhere). In fact, 
There is no instance where the Qal stem of this verb is used in the 
sense of physical cleanliness. Thus, it seems that its use in 2 Kgs 5:14 
must indicate some kind of socio-religious purity. Again, the signifi- 
cance of such an observation can only be appreciated when the NT 
text is approached with this in mind. 

After all of this, it is clear that baptism as an initiatory rite is not 
found in the OT or apocrypha, though ritual cleansing by immersion 
is present. 

Early Judaism 

John the Baptist and our Lord lived and ministered within the 
milieu of early Judaism. Thus, it would be no surprise to find that the 
rite of Christian baptism had its prototype within Judaism. This is 
indeed the case. Yet, the level at which that prototype is to be 
discerned and understanding exactly how it was adopted in the NT 
are not simple matters. 

The earliest references to proselyte baptism in mainline Judaism 
are to be found in the Mishnah. 20 There are two such passages which, 
though found in two separate places, 21 are verbally identical: 

The School of Shammai say: If a man became a proselyte on the day 
before Passover, he may immerse himself and consume his Passover- 

20 K. G. Kuhn, "npoarjXuToq," TDNT 6 (1968) 738. 
2] m. Pesah 8:8 and m. c Ed. 5:2. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 273 

offering in the evening. And the School of Hillel say: He that separates 
himself from his circumcision is as one that separates himself from the 



The statements are attributed to the Schools of Shammai and Hillel 
(dated to ca. a.d. 10-80 23 ). It is unfortunate that this controversy 
cannot be dated more precisely. Be that as it may, there is no way to 
be absolutely certain when the Jews began to use baptism as part of 
their ceremony for the initiation of proselytes, 24 and this matter has 
been the subject of much discussion. 

Solomon Zeitlin, for example, saw proselyte baptism as arising 
after the year a.d. 65. He wrote: 

Immersion for proselytes was not instituted as a ritual per se for 
converts to Judaism. It became a requirement for proselytes for 
another reason. At the Conclave in the year 65 c.e. it was decreed that 
all gentiles are ipso facto unclean, in the category of a zab. 25 In 
consequence of this decree any gentile who wished to enter the Jewish 
community had to under go the ritual of immersion. This was the 
underlying reason for the institution of baptism for proselytes and was 
introduced after the year 65 c.e. . . . 

Prior to the year 65 c.e. pagans were not deemed susceptible to the 
laws of impurity and were never subject to the the laws of impurity and 
purity. Many statements to this effect are found in the Tannaitic 
literature. . . . Therefore a pagan, not being considered unclean, was 
not obliged to be baptised upon becoming a proselyte. Hence baptism 
with regard to proselytes is not mentioned in the apocryphal literature 
nor in the writings of Josephus when reference is made to converts to 
Judaism. According to the Tannaitic literature a proselyte, besides 
undergoing the rituals of circumcision and baptism, had to offer a 
sacrifice. This sacrifice consisted of two doves. Such a sacrifice was 
brought by a zab. Hence the sacrifice which had to be brought by a 

22 H. Danby, The Mishnah (London: Oxford University, 1933) 148, 431. 

23 Ibid., 799. 
L. F. Badia, The Qumran Baptism and John the Baptist's Baptism (Lanham: 
University Press of America, 1980) 12. Badia states: ". . . it is still disputed among 
authorities of Judaism whether baptism was practiced as an initiatory rite to Judaism 
prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 a.d." Again he says on p. 36 of his book: 
"From the evidence at hand, it seems to me that it is impossible to determine whether 
or not John modeled, adapted, or innovated his baptism on the Jewish proselyte 
baptism, since it is impossible to establish that the latter was in existence prior to 
John's ministry. Even if one assumes Jewish proselyte baptisms were in existence, it is 
almost impossible to determine how widespread they were or if John himself knew 
about them." 

For the background to this term see biblical Hebrew DTT ("to flow, gush") 
especially as it is used in Leviticus 15. The zab is the person with the flow and is 
therefore ritually (and physically?) unclean. There is an entire tractate (entitled Zabim) 
in the Mishnah dealing with Leviticus 15. 


proselyte was not because he embraced Judaism but because he was no 
longer in the status of a zab. The rituals of baptism and sacrifice were 
introduced for proselytes because they were no longer considered 
zabim and had the right to enter the Jewish community. The rituals of 
baptism and sacrifice for proselytes were introduced after the year 65 

C.E. 26 

Thus Zeitlin would not have supported the notion that Jewish 
proselyte baptism provided the pattern for John the Baptist's minis- 
tration. On the other side of this issue, Edersheim was clearly 
convinced that the Mishnaic statement quoted above and the logical 
need of purification for the heathen upon entering the services of the 
sanctuary are conclusive proof that the proselyte baptism of Judaism 
was instituted before John the Baptist. 7 

There seems to be no certainty in this matter. However, today it 
seems to be popular among scholars to regard Jewish proselyte 
baptism as instituted prior to the work of John the Baptist though on 
somewhat different grounds than those of Edersheim. Oepke states: 

... it is hardly conceivable that the Jewish ritual should be adopted at 
a time when baptism had become an established religious practice in 
Christianity. After a.d. 70 at least the opposition to Christians was too 
sharp to allow the rise of a Christian custom among the Jews. 
Proselyte baptism must have preceded Christian baptism. 28 

Rowley 29 and many other scholars 30 have agreed with the logic of 
Oepke's statement, and truly, there is much in favor of this view. Yet, 
to base a synthesis of the evidence on baptism on this tentative 
conclusion would be precarious. 

There is another aspect of Zeitlin's statement that requires 
scrutiny, namely, the relationship between proselyte baptism and the 
general levitical cleansings of Judaism. He argues that baptism be- 
came necessary only because the gentiles became "ipso facto unclean" 
via the decisions made by the so-called "conclave" of a.d. 65. Thus, 
from that point on it was necessary for the proselyte to go through 
the process of immersion for levitical cleansing. Many writers, in 
addition to Zeitlin himself, have pointed out that rabbinic literature 
views levitical purity and impurity as categories applicable to Jews 

26 S. Zeitlin, Studies in the Early History of Judaism (3 vols.; New York: KTAV, 
1974), 2. 877-78. 

27 A. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (2 vols.; reprinted. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 2. 747. 
28 Oepke, 535. 
H. H. Rowley "Jewish Proselyte Baptism and the Baptism of John," From 
Moses to Qumran (New York: Association, 1963) 211, 212. 

Ibid, 212 n. 5, Rowley refers to many who have become convinced of this. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 275 

only. 31 In other words, it is a non-sequitor to think of a levitically 
impure gentile. They (the gentiles) had no way of becoming pure or 
impure in relation to the levitical system since they were not within 
the realm of that system. On Zeitlin's view, then, the decision of a.d. 
65 reversed this. 

If this be so, then the essential background of Jewish proselyte 
baptism as well as NT baptism may go back to the ideology of quasi- 
physical cleansing. In that case it becomes irrelevant to become 
involved in the discussion of the origin of proselyte baptism in 
Judaism as opposed to its use in the NT. If they go back to a 
common background (i.e., levitical cleansings), then why consider one 
as being dependent upon another? There is no need 

Rowley 32 vehemently disagrees with such an approach. He pro- 
ceeds on what he thinks to be a safe assumption that Jewish proselyte 
baptism was antecedent to John the Baptist. His argument is that 
there was a fundamental distinction between ritual lustration and 
proselyte baptism within Judaism: 

That this baptism of proselytes is different from the ritual lustra- 
tions prescribed in the law is already quite clear and while it might be 
antecedently assumed that lustration would be required of every pros- 
elyte by a people that required the frequent lustration of its members, 
and readily agreed that the baptism of proselytes is a special develop- 
ment from the general ritual lustration, it must be recognized that it is 
something that goes fundamentally beyond mere lustration. 33 

He thus argues that proselyte baptism was both purificatory and 
initiatory. This he bases mainly upon the fact that the normal 
lustrations of Judaism were private affairs while proselyte baptism 
required witnesses (more specifically, elders of the synagogue who 

See for example D. Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism 
(reprinted, New York: Arno, 1973) 107. "Proselyte baptism, however, was essentially 
quite outside the levitical uncleanness, so in principle there was simply no room for 
purification." One of the passages he quotes in support of this statement is m. Neg. 7:1, 
"These Bright Spots are clean: any that were on a man before the Law was given, or 
that were on a gentile when he became a proselyte or that were on a child when it was 
born, or that were in a crease and were later laid bare. . ." (Danby, Mishnah, 684). 

Rowley, "Jewish Proselyte Baptism," 225-30. See likewise Daube (Rabbinic 
Judaism, 106-13) who is clearly convinced that the purely purifatory understanding of 
proselyte baptism is in error. He writes: ". . . the decisive moment in proselyte baptism 
was the 'going up' or 'coming up' — no doubt because of its symbolical value. The 
relevant Tannaitic provision — which, we shall see presently, is alluded to in the New 
Testament — runs: 'When he has undergone baptism and come up, tabhal we c ala, he is 
like an Israelite in all respects' (p. 111). Thus, he, like Rowley, associates the essence of 
proselyte baptism with the looking forward unto a new life and lifestyle; but he arrives 
at this by a route somewhat different than that of Rowley. 
"Rowley, "Jewish Proselyte Baptism," 225. 


interrogate and/ or instruct the initiate). The most pertinent Talmudic 
passage in this regard (b. Yebam. 47 a-b) is quoted here for the 
reader's convenience: 

The Rabbis say: If anyone comes nowadays, and desires to become a 
proselyte, they say to him: 'Why do you want to become a proselyte? 
Do you not know that the Israelites nowadays are harried, driven 
about, persecuted and harassed, and that sufferings befall them?' If he 
says, 'I know it, and I am not worthy,' they receive him at once, and 
they explain to him some of the lighter and some of the heavier 
commandments, and they tell him the sins connected with the laws of 
gleaning, the forgotten sheaf, the corner of the field and the tithe for 
the poor; and they tell him the punishments for the transgressions of 
the commandments, and they say to him, 'Know that up till now you 
could eat forbidden fat without being liable to the punishment of 
"being cut off (Lev. VII, 23); you could violate the Sabbath without 
being liable to the punishment of death by stoning; but from now you 
will be liable.' And even as they tell him of the punishments, they tell 
him also of the rewards, and they say to him, 'Know that the world to 
come has been created only for the righteous.' They do not, however, 
tell him too much, or enter into too many details. If he assents to all, 
they circumcise him at once, and when he is healed, they baptise him, 
and two scholars stand by, and tell him of some of the light and of 
some of the heavy laws. When he has been baptised, he is regarded in 
all respects as an Israelite. 34 

Though many have agreed with Rowley, his methodology and 
logic seem faulty to this writer. In the context of the Talmudic 
statement itself, the "witnesses" were to be there for the purpose of 
instructing and/ or interrogating the initiate concerning the law and 
his or her willingness to accept that law. This does not in any way 
affect a change in the essential idea behind immersion. 

It seems unthinkable that there could be any clear-cut dissocia- 
tion of proselyte baptism from the common levitical immersions. The 
Jewish people of the day would surely have had difficulty making 
such a distinction. Their familiarity with the many rules of cleansing 
and the obvious similarity if not identity of those rites with what took 
place in the case of proselyte baptism clearly demonstrate this. The 
Mishnah contains an entire tractate on the issues surrounding 
"immersion-pools" (Mikwaoth). Furthermore, in spite of Daube's 
objections to the use of this evidence, 35 the fact that in m. Pesah. 8:8 
(wherein is found the statement quoted earlier) proselyte baptism is 

34 C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology (New York: Schocken, 
1974) 578-79. 

35 Daube, Rabbinic Judaism; 107-11. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 277 

spoken of in the context of levitical cleansing in preparation for the 
Passover seems to indicate that it was not separate and distinct from 
levitical cleansing. In addition, the statement of the school of Hillel, 
"He that separates himself from his uncircumcision is as one that 
separates himself from a grave," though again understood differently 
by Daube, 36 is commonly taken to relate to the issue of levitical 
uncleanness. 37 Thus, it seems artificial to see a substantial difference 
between the common immersions of the Jews and the immersion of a 

There is another important point to be made on the basis of the 
Talmudic statement quoted above. Daube has developed his whole 
discussion of proselyte baptism around that passage and the cate- 
chism which is reflected therein. 38 It is clear that the rite as a whole 
(the instruction and immersion, etc.) was initiatory to a new life and 
lifestyle. 39 As Moore writes: 

In the whole ritual there is no suggestion that baptism was a real 
or symbolical purification; the assistants rehearse select command- 
ments of both kinds as an appropriate accompaniment to the pros- 
elyte's assumption of all and sundry the obligations of the law, "the 
yoke of the commandment." It is essentially an initiatory rite, with a 
forward and not a backward look. 40 

The initiation did not just bestow benefits ("When he has been 
baptised, he is regarded in all respects as an Israelite") but it required 
a commitment to the lifestyle of Judaism ("If he assents to all"). To 
be sure, it would be prejudicial to assume that there could be no 
repentance associated with the initiatory rites of the proselyte, 41 but 
this subject will be dealt with more thoroughly in the next section. 
The investigation here has not yielded any conclusion as to the 
chronological relationship between the proselyte baptism of Judaism 
and NT baptism. In fact, the most important point in the discussion 
has been to suggest that both might actually go back to a common 

36 Ibid., 109-10. 
Danby (Mishnah, 148 n. 4) states that such a person ". . . needs to be sprinkled 
... on the third and seventh days following, before he becomes clean." In support of 
this statement he points to Num 19:19 and context. 

38 Daube, Rabbinic Judaism, 113-38. 

39 E. R. Hardy ("Jewish and Christian Baptism: Some Notes and Queries," A 
Tribute to Arthur Vdobus, ed. R. H. Fischer [Chicago: Lutheran School of Theology, 
1977] 317) recognizes this: "The Jewish convert, ancient or modern, is in principle ac- 
cepting the yoke of the Torah, whatever that (joyful) obligation may mean in a 
particular Jewish tradition." 

40 G. F. Moore, Judaism (3 vols.; Cambridge: Harvard University, 1962), 1. 334. 

41 Daube, Rabbinic Judaism, 106-7. 


background, the common ritual immersions of the Jews. To antici- 
pate the future discussion here, if proselyte baptism did antedate 
John the Baptist, it would appear that the cultural context into which 
his baptism fits remains essentially that of the Jewish lustrations 
simply because he did not baptize gentiles, but Jews. Thus, in that 
case, it is obviously not the same as proselyte baptism which had to 
do with bringing gentiles into the covenant relationship. His was a 
baptism of repentance for those within the covenant nation. This 
leads to a discussion of the Qumran evidence. 

Baptism at Qumran 

The critical study of baptism has been particularly influenced by 
some relatively new data from Qumran. There have been numerous 
studies on the relationship between the baptism of John the Baptist 
(and ultimately Christian baptism) and the lustrations spoken of in 
the Manual of Discipline (IQS). 42 

One of the issues that receives much attention is the identity of 
the sect with which the Qumran community was associated. The 
views range from Pharisees or Sadducees to Zealots or Essenes. That 
they were Essenes is the most commonly accepted conclusion but it is 
probably safest to follow Badia and call them "the people of Qumran 
or Qumranians." 43 

There has been a considerable amount of speculation on the 
amount and type of contact John the Baptist may or may not have 
had with the Qumran community and /or members of that com- 
munity. Some writers have even gone so far as to suggest that he was 
a member of the community. 44 Such discussions are, of course, filled 
with speculation and are based mainly upon the following factors: 
1) John's ministry was carried out in an area quite close to the com- 
munity of Qumran; 2) John was the son of a priest (the Qumran 
community was partially ruled by priests) 45 ; 3) John's baptism and 
teachings seem to have a certain affinity with those of the Qumran- 
ians. This latter point leads us to reproduce here (for the convenience 
of the reader) certain key passages from Brownlee's translation of the 
Manual of Discipline (as cited by Badia 46 ): 

42 For a good compendium of the research on this subject and the views held by 
scholars as well as an extensive bibliography, see L. F. Badia, The Qumran Baptism 
and John the Baptist's Baptism (Lanham: University Press of America, 1980). 

43 Ibid., 1-2. 

44 Ibid., 3-8. We know that one of the periods in which the Qumran site was 
occuppied was 4 B.C. to a.d. 68. This would make such contact possible at least on 
chronological grounds. 

45 Ibid., 6. 

46 Ibid., 52-53. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 279 

A. 1QS 3:4-9 

While in iniquity, he cannot be reckoned perfect 

He cannot purify himself by atonement 

Nor cleanse himself with water-for-impurity, 

Nor sanctify himself with seas or rivers, 

Nor cleanse himself with any water for washing! 
Unclean? Unclean? shall he be as long as he rejects God's laws so as not 
to be instructed by the Community of His counsel. For it is through 
the spirit of God's true counsel in regard to a man's ways that all his 
iniquities will be atoned so that he may look upon the life-giving light, 
and through a holy spirit disposed toward Unity in His Truth that he 
will be cleansed of all his iniquities, and through an upright and 
humble spirit that his sin will be atoned, and through the submission of 
his soul to all God's ordinances that his flesh will be cleansed so that he 
may purify himself with water-for-impurity and sanctify himself with 
rippling water. 

These may not enter into water to be permitted to touch the Purity of 
the holy men, for they will not be cleansed unless they have turned 
from their wickedness, for uncleanness clings to all transgressors of His 

C. 1QS 6:14-23 

And everyone from Israel who dedicates himself to join the Council of 
the Community — the man who is Overseer at the head of the Many 
shall examine him as to his understanding and his deeds. And if he 
grasps instruction, he shall bring him into the covenant to turn to the 
truth and to turn away from all perversity, and he shall enlighten him 
in all the laws of the Community. Afterward, when he comes to stand 
before the Many, the whole group will be asked concerning his affairs; 
and however it is decided under God in accordance with the counsel of 
the Many, he will either draw near or draw away. But when he draws 
near the Council of the Community, he must not touch the Purity of 
the Many until they investigate him as to his spirit and his deeds, until 
the completion of a full year by him. Neither shall he share in the 
prosperity of the Many; but upon his completion of a year in the midst 
of the Community, the Many shall be asked concerning his affairs with 
reference to his understanding and his deeds in the Torah; and if it is 
decided under God that he should draw near or, nearer the Conclave of 
the Community, according to the judgment of the priests and the 
majority of the men of their covenant, his wealth and his property shall 
be conveyed to the man who is Custodian of the property of the Many, 
and he shall enter it to his credit, but shall not spend of it for the 
Many. He the neophyte shall not touch the drink of the Many until his 
completion of a second year among the men of the Community. But 
upon his completion of a second year, he the Overseer shall examine 
him under the direction of the Many; and if it is decided under God to 
admit him into the Community, he shall enroll him in the order of his 
assigned position among his brethren for Torah, and for judgment and 


for Purity, and to pool his property; and his counsel shall belong to the 
Community, also his judgment. 

The Qumran community (according to the Manual of Discipline) 
was particularly concerned with the struggle between truth and 
falsehood in this life. They felt this dichotomy and directed all of 
their community organization and functions as well as the initiation 
of those who entered the community toward the end of keeping them- 
selves separated from the "spirit of falsehood." Passages A and B 
above are found within contexts that are concerned directly with this 
struggle. The point being made is that there can be no purity or 
sanctity where there is rejection of the law of God (as taught within 
the Qumran community). Thus, it is against the principles of the 
community to allow anyone to be initiated into the community who is 
not completely dedicated to the law of God and rules of the com- 
munity. In other words, he must repent of any ways of falsehood and 
commit himself to the ways of truth before lustration(s) (initiatory or 
otherwise) can be of any value. 

This fact may be particularly significant for our understanding of 
John the Baptist. John's "baptism of repentance" seems to have had 
affinities with the ideology surrounding the (initiatory) lustration(s) at 
Qumran. In the first place, the very idea of "repentance" involves a 
change of lifestyle. Furthermore, John himself made this same con- 
nection in his own preaching, as for example in Matt 3:7-8: 

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for 
baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to 
fleee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping 
with [d^iog] your repentance;" 

Yet another point needs to be made here. The Qumran com- 
munity was at least in part eschatologically motivated. Concerning 
the purpose of the baptisms Badia states: 

. . . the Manual of Discipline suggests that baptism marked entry into 
an eschatological community. Eschatology is the doctrine of the last 

47 See 1QS 4:23ff. according to G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 
(Baltimore: Penguin, 1968) 78. "Until now the spirits of truth and falsehood struggle in 
the hearts of men and they walk in both wisdom and folly. According to his portion of 
truth so does a man hate falsehood, and according to his inheritance in the realm of 
falsehood so is he wicked and so hates truth. For God has established the two spirits in 
equal measure until the determined end, and until the Renewal, and He knows the 
reward of their deeds from all eternity. He has allotted them to the children of men 
that they may know good (and evil, and) that the destiny of all the living may be 
according to the spirit within (them at the time) of the visitation." 

averbeck: the focus of baptism IN THE NT 281 

days of the world. It was an important belief of the Qumran com- 
munity. They believed that the prophets spoke of the last days and that 
God had raised up a priestly teacher among them, who revealed the 
mysteries which had been committed to the prophets and to the 
community. They were conscious of living in expectation of the end of 
the world. This belief, that the end was at hand, guided their common 
life especially in their baptism rites. 48 

This is particularly significant when one takes notice of some state- 
ments made by John. Consider for example Matt 3:2 ("Repent, for 
the kingdom of heaven is at hand") and Matt 3:11-12: 

As for me, I baptize you in water for repentance; but He who is coming 
after me is mightier than I, and I am not even fit to remove His 
sandals; He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And 
His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will gather His wheat into 
the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 

Thus, the eschatological outlook comes to the forefront in both 
Qumran and John the Baptist. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
some writers think of John as being a member or associate of the 
community, albeit, possibly an individualistic member or associate 
who became convinced of an urgent need to prepare the nation as a 
whole for an immediate visitation. Even many who do not see him as 
directly associated with the Qumranians are convinced that he was in 
some special sense familiar with them, their teachings, and their 
practices. This may be so. Surely the multitudes (Matt 3:5) under- 
stood at least the essence of John's message and the implications of 
his baptism. If this were not so, then how and why would he become 
popular enough to be a threat to the authority and/ or popularity of 
the mainline religious leaders (Matt 21:23-27)? John was undoubtedly 
an innovative figure but his innovations were based upon what was 
common knowledge to the people of that day. They were familiar 
with the baptisms of mainline Judaism (see the previous section of 
this article). Some of them may have even been generally familiar 
with the lustrations of sects like that at Qumran. At any rate, John's 
baptism and the teachings that he espoused along with the baptism 
were not altogether innovative in and of themselves. 

There were, however, some apparent differences between John's 
baptism and that of the sect at Qumran. John apparently admin- 
istered his baptism (though this is debatable) while the supposed 
initiatory lustration at Qumran was apparently self-administered. 
This may or may not be why he was called "the Baptist" (^>anx\<5xr\(;). 

Badia, Qumran Baptism, 50. 


It is interesting that he is the only individual for whom this word is 
used. In fact, some think of it as his "nickname." 49 

B. E. Thiering's 50 analysis of 1QS 3:6-7 is intriguing, though in 
the estimation of this writer not completely convincing. Thiering sees 
this text as locating primary sin in the inner man and secondary sin in 
the flesh. Likewise, then, there are two rites of purification: 

The inner atonement is marked by a rite of cleansing with the Spirit of 
holiness. As this spirit comes through joining the community, the rite is 
closely associated with the initiation. There is also ... a washing of the 
outer man with water, a ritual ablution. This rite is an inferior one, to 
show that the outer defilement is only a secondary location of sin. 51 

Therefore, where Brownlee translates "and through a holy spirit 
disposed toward Unity" Thiering seems to see a technical term and 
translates "In the Spirit of holiness (which is given) to the com- 
munity." It is admitted that there appears to be no evidence as to how 
this rite of the "Spirit of holiness" was administered but it is seen as 
the ritual counterpart (having to do with inner cleansing) to water 
lustration (having to do with outer cleansing). 52 

The major problem with this evaluation of the text at hand is 
that the point of the whole text and context has to do with the 
insufficiency of ritual. There is a need for something to happen within 
the person in order to make the person eligible for the initiatory rite 
which, by the very nature of things, can be only external. Thiering 
takes something that seems to stand in contrast to ritual as a whole 
and assigns it again to the realm of ritual, though seeing it as a rite 
having to do with inner (non-ritual) cleansing. It seems to me that the 
text is saying that it is water lustration which, by the standards of this 
community, is not somehow magically effective. The inner change is a 
non-externally observable phenomenon which gives validity to the 
external lustration. Thus, I prefer the older and more traditional 
understanding of the text. Yet, I hold no particular antagonism 
toward the view herein criticized and am willing to admit change at 
this point if more and convincing evidence is presented in its favor. 

Passage C from the Manual of Discipline is particularly helpful 
in understanding the overall initiatory process. It is found within a 
context where the order within the community is the central concern. 
Part of that order has to do with how a neophyte is brought into the 

49 Oepke, TDNT, I. 545. 

50 B. E. Thiering, "Inner and Outer Cleansing at Qumran as a Background to New 
Testament Baptism" NTS 26 (1980) 266-77. 
51 Ibid., 270. 
"Ibid., 276. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 283 

full circle of the community. They took great pains to ensure that the 
initiate was sincere about following God's law as administered by the 
leaders and community members as a whole. In fact, there was what 
amounts to a two-year and two-stage probationary period as a 
safeguard against defilement of the congregation by an insincere 

It is not altogether clear when the initiatory lustration took 
place, whether at the beginning of the two years or at the end. It is 
not even certain whether or not there was any significant difference 
between the first and initiatory lustrations as opposed to the regular 
lustrations of community members. 53 But it is clear that the concern 
associated with initiation had to do with the commitment of the 
initiate to a new lifestyle. Furthermore, it would seem that the ritual 
of water cleansing was undertaken so that the person could take part 
in the community religious/ social functions which required purity. 
Thus, there was a forward look within the basic concern of such 
lustrations as well as in their association with initiation which is 
commitment oriented. 

It is clear from John 3:22-4:2 that these ideas were not absent 
from the NT. In this passage John's baptism (3:23) had given rise to a 
dispute over issues of "purification" (3:25, Ka9apiou6<;). The connec- 
tion with Jewish procedures in the Torah and Mishnah is self-evident. 
Obviously, John's practice of baptizing was directly connected with 
purification in the minds of the people to whom he was ministering. 
In addition, both Jesus (3:22; 4:2) and John (3:25) had disciples, and 
the connection between making disciples and baptizing is indisputable 
(4:1). John 4:1b reads in Greek 'Ir|0"oiJ<; nXeiovac, uaGrjidc; noiel Kai 
PaTtxi^ei fj 'I©dvvr|c; and is translated in English "Jesus was making 
and baptizing more disciples than John." Tikeiovaq ua9r|T&<; ("more 
disciples") is the object of both rcoiei ("making'') and fianxiC,£i 
("baptizing"). As Bultmann has already said: ". . . being baptised by 
the baptist and becoming his disciple are one and the same!" 54 Thus, 
even though John's baptism (and that of Jesus during his earthly 
ministry) was not necessarily for the purpose of initiation into a 
community of believers (and in that sense it differed from that at 

53 H. H. Rowley ("Jewish Proselyte Baptism," 230 n. 1) rejected the idea that there 
was in fact any water rite of initiation at Qumran. This is indeed possible. Still, this 
does not eliminate the relevance of the Qumran statements often discussed in relation 
to baptism unless one completely dissociates baptism from cleansing and purification 
(as Rowley essentially does). It is still pertinent to argue that the Qumranians saw no 
magical efficacy in water lustration. A certain correspondence can then be drawn 
between the teachings at Qumran and those of John the Baptist. 

R. Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (transl. by G. R. Beasley- 
Murray et al; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 176 n. 5. 


Qumran), it does retain the effect of being associated with a change in 
orientation of life. One became the disciple of the person with whom 
one's baptism was associated, whether that person was the one who 
administered the baptism (as with John the Baptist) or someone else 
in whose name the baptizer baptized (Matt 28:19). This is the 
ideology that lies behind the statement of Paul in 1 Cor 1:13-15. 


There remains a passage in Josephus which speaks of John the 
Baptist, and in quite a good light. Though not corroborating in detail 
the NT account of John's death (Matt 14:12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 
9:7-9), Josephus does assign his assassination to Herod. John's tremen- 
dous popularity is said to be the reason that Herod became suspicious 
of him and had him put to death. The people of the day, being 
convinced of John's righteousness, saw Herod's defeat at the hands of 
Aretas, the King of Arabia, as being from God because Herod had 
murdered John the Baptist. 

The passage from Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews (18:5:2) 55 
reads as follows: 

Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army 
came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did 
against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was 
a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to 
righteousness towards one another, and piety towards god, and so to 
come to baptism; for that the washing (with water) would be accept- 
able to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away, (or 
the remission) of some sins (only) but for the purification of the body: 
supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by 
righteousness. Now, when (many) others came to crowd about him, for 
they were greatly moved (or pleased) by hearing his words, Herod, who 
feared lest this great influence John had over the people might put it 
into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed 
ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him 
to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself 
into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it 
when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of 
Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, 
and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the 
destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a 
mark of God's displeasure against him. 

55 W. Whiston, translator, Josephus: Complete Works (reprinted. Grand Rapids: 
Kregel, 1960) 382. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 285 

Josephus' remarks clearly show that two primary principles 
stood out in John's preaching and baptismal ministrations. First, 
there was a certain purification of the body accomplished by the 
water. This is reminiscent of the purificatory lustrations of mainline 
Judaism and Qumran. Second, his baptism was not taught as being 
efficacious in and of itself. There was a need for righteous repentance 
in terms of "righteousness towards one another, and piety towards 
God." The purity of the soul was seen as a prerequisite to the efficacy 
of the baptism for "purification of the body." This is reminiscent 
especially of the attitude reflected in the Manual of Discipline at 

Hill, in his commentary on Matthew, 56 has argued that baptism 
actually had no ritual significance for John. His point is that John the 
Baptist's affinities were with Qumran rather than the mainline Juda- 
ism of the day since, obviously, the Qumran texts stand out in their 
emphasis upon the lack of inherent efficacy in ritual. Thus he 
considers Josephus' statement as a reinterpretation of John's baptism 
in the light of Judaism. 

It seems to me that Hill's view has the effect of seeing far too 
much of a dichotomy between external ritual and internal reality in 
the Judaism of the day. As mentioned earlier, some writers are 
convinced that even mainline Judaism had already sublimated its 
understanding of ritual so that it was not conceived of as purely 
mechanical. If this be so, then Hill's statement actually manifests a 
misunderstanding of Judaism. Furthermore, it seems that Josephus 
clearly thought of John the Baptist as teaching the same need for 
inner cleansing as did the Qumranians. This may reflect the fact that 
the same need had been recognized within mainline Judaism, that is, 
if Josephus can be seen as speaking from the perspective of mainline 


The purpose of this section is to see the manner in which the 
practice of baptism and the understanding of its meaning was in- 
corporated into the NT. The ordinance and its meaning had roots in 
the cleansings and baptisms discussed above. This amalgam of ideas 
that surrounded and was associated with water lustrations and bap- 
tisms was all part of one whole to the people of that day. Yet, a 

56 D. Hill, The Gospel of Matthew (NCB; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 
1972) 91-92. Similarly, F. F. Bruce (The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 115-16 n. 22) thinks of Josephus' account as being colored by 
the historian's knowledge of the Essenes and their baptismal practices and doctrines. 


certain association may rise to the surface in one passage while 
another rises to the surface in another. Here we approach the realm 
of connotation versus denotation, association versus direct connec- 
tion, cultural/ religious background versus doctrine, etc. 

The discussion will be carried on in three stages. These three 
stages correspond to the three subsections which follow immediately 
below. First, there will be a discussion of the basic ideology lying 
behind baptism in the NT. It is in this portion of the article that the 
effects of the previous background discussions will be felt most 
predominantly. Second, what are viewed as being secondary develop- 
ments which arose in connection with baptism will be investigated. By 
the term "secondary developments" I do not mean to imply that 
somehow the NT passages discussed therein are not inspired of God. 
Rather, the fact is that the connection between these passages and the 
meaning of baptism as discerned from the background studies does 
not seem to be as close. Third, certain analogical developments within 
the NT will be considered. There are at least two passages in the NT 
(1 Cor 10:2 and 1 Pet 3:21) which seem to use baptism as the basis for 
"typological" or "analogical" understanding of OT passages. These 
will be discussed last of all. 

The Basic Ideology of Baptism 

At the end of the section on Qumran, John 3:22-4:2 was dis- 
cussed. It is clear from the language and structure of 4: 1 that a direct 
connection is to be seen between baptism and discipleship. This same 
viewpoint is manifestly clear in certain other NT passages as well. 

Matt 28:19 clearly reflects that baptism and teaching were part- 
ners in the process of making disciples. "Make disciples" (aorist 
imperative; uaGrjieuaaTe) is the mandate. "Baptizing" (present parti- 
cipal; Pa7rrit;ovT£c;) and "teaching" (present participal; 8i5tiaKOVT£<;) 
are the two procedures associated with the accomplishment of that 
mandate. 57 Thus, here as in John 3:22-4:2, baptism is directly con- 
nected with discipleship. 

Again, 1 Cor 1:10-17 (along with 3:4-9) reflects the fact that to 
baptize someone has implications for making him part of one's group 
of loyal disciples. Paul argues from the fact that he had not baptized 
any of the Corinthians (except Crispus and Gaius and the household 
of Stephanus, vv 14 and 16). His point is that since he had not 
baptized them, they should not be considering themselves as his 

W. Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel of 
Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973) 1000-1 and W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, 
Matthew (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1971) 362. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 287 

disciples, thus creating different sects within the church. The believers 
there had been lining up behind various Christian teachers; Paul, 
Apollos, Cephas (Peter) along with Christ (the master teacher) whose 
name was included in the list (v 12). He then says in vv 13-15: 

Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you was he? Or 
were you baptized in (sic;) the name of Paul? I thank God that I 
baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius, that no man should 
say you were baptized in (eic;) my name. 

Essentially, his argument that they should not consider themselves to 
be his disciples is based upon the fact that he did not baptize them 
and neither were they baptized in his name. 

These passages show clearly that the association of baptism (by a 
specific teacher or in the name of that teacher) with becoming a 
disciple was well-known within the Corinthian cultural/ religious 
milieu. The fact that this is reflected and not postulated within the 
NT would seem to indicate that the association between baptism and 
discipleship did not arise as part of the NT revelation, but instead was 
already present for our God to use in his revelation and implementa- 
tion of salvation. It is only when the full thrust of this latter point is 
brought to bear upon the issue of baptism that certain other ques- 
tions can be answered. 

For example, how did this connection between baptism and 
discipleship come into being? Part of the answer, in my opinion, is to 
be found in understanding that the lustrations at Qumran (and 
possibly also, to a certain extent, in mainline Judaism) were neces- 
sarily efficacious, according to their teachings, only if they were 
associated with genuine repentance from sin and commitment to the 
law of God. Thus, a new or renewed commitment to God was implicit 
in the rite itself. Another part of the answer is discerned by recogniz- 
ing the fact that the regular levitical water cleansings in Judaism 
removed impurities. Yet, as reflected in m. Pesah 8:8 (quoted earlier), 
the concern for removal of impurity often had to do with the need for 
ritual purity as a prerequisite for taking part in the religious activities 
of the community (in this case, the Passover). This is also reflected in 
1QS 6:14-23 (also quoted above). Again, the baptism/ lustration is 
done in anticipation of some other activity which is to follow. It has a 
forward look. Yet another part of the answer has to do with the fact 
that the Qumran baptism, whether considered part of the initiation or 
just a necessary part of the initiate's newly acquired regulations, had 
to do with one's entrance into a community. The same is true of the 
proselyte baptism of Judaism. Whether or not proselyte baptism was 
part of the repertoire of Judaism before the rise of Christianity makes 
little difference. In either case, it was meant to mark the initiate's 


entrance into a religious community, both local (the local synagogue) 
and international (Judaism, with its center at Jerusalem). 58 

This latter point is particularly important when we come to the 
book of Acts. John used baptism in his preaching as a means of 
facilitating confession of sins and repentance in preparation for the 
coming of the Messiah. Jesus perpetuated that baptism during his 
earthly ministry as a means of bringing repentant ones into his circle 
of disciples (John 3:22). The same rite was carried from there into the 
local church as its rite of initiation for those trusting Christ and thus 
entering the local church as Christ's disciples. But if the rite was 
carried over, so were its implications. As part of a new believer's 
incorporation into the Christian community he or she must be 
baptized. It would not occur to them that there could be a Christian 
in the local church who had not been baptized. 59 In effect, the initiate, 
by his submission to baptism, declared himself a disciple of Christ 
and committed himself to the kind of lifestyle pertinent to that 
declaration. More than that, the fact of the close proximity, timewise, 
between trusting in Christ and being baptized (cf. Acts 2:38; 10:47 
etc.) is significant. It implies that they could not conceive of a true 
Christian who was not willing to express commitment to our Lord. 
That was not one of the options given to the person being evange- 
lized. He either trusted Christ and was baptized, knowing the implica- 
tions in terms of commitment and lifestyle, or he rejected the truth. 

John's was a "baptism of repentance." Since the Christian rite 
was based upon John's baptism, repentance was legitimately as- 
sociated with conversion. Thus we find such texts as Luke 24:27, Acts 
2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 20:21; 26:20; etc. John the Baptist was the avenue 
through which all, or at least many, of the implications attached to 
baptism, lustration, and cleansing were brought into the church. 
There is a certain continuity from one age into the next. His baptism 

58 If Jewish proselyte baptism began before the church, it simply demonstrates that 
baptism by its very nature had implications for initiation into a religious community. 
Even if the Jews did not begin baptizing proselytes until after the church had been 
established, as Zeitlin and others have proposed, either the same basic implications of 
baptism are reflected in its adoption as an initiatory rite, or it is patterned after 
Christian baptism which in turn adopted it and its implications from the levitical 
cleansings of Judaism and/ or the lustrations at Qumran. Thus, the chronological 
relationship between Jewish proselyte baptism and Johannine and Christian baptism is 
not central to the thesis of this paper. 

The fact that sometimes water baptism is not expressly stated as taking place at 
conversion does not mean that such was in fact the case. It is clear from Acts 2:38 and 
many other passages and the general tone of the New Testament that the normal 
procedure was for baptism to follow immediately upon conversion. Corresponding to 
this, Acts 8:36 demonstrates that it was normal for the convert himself to expect that 
baptism be administered immediately subsequent to conversion. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 289 

of repentance had as its purpose the preparation of a people ready to 
meet the Messiah. This it did. In fact, many of John's disciples 
apparently, in turn, became Christ's disciples. This was a natural 
process. It happened while both of them were carrying on their 
ministries (John 1:35-51). It probably happened en masse after John's 
death, though it is not as clearly stated (Matt 14:12: "And his 
disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went 
and reported to Jesus"). It also happened after the church had been 
established (Acts 19:1-7). 

The Acts 19 passage is particularly interesting. Prerequisite to a 
proper understanding of this text is the understanding of the message 
which John preached in connection with his baptism. There is a 
considerable amount of disagreement on the meaning of "fire" in the 
statement ". . . He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and 
fire" (Matt 3:11 and Luke 3:16). 60 However, it is clear from these 
passages as well as Mark 1:8 and John 1:33 when they are combined 
with Acts 1 :5 that the reference had to do with the day of Pentecost. 
This was what John was pointing forward to and its was this that 
Paul was referring back to in Acts 19:2-4. Apollos had been teaching 
about the Messiah but he had only been familiar with John's baptism 
and teachings (Acts 18:24-28). Thus, when Paul came to Ephesus he 
found a group which was essentially a "pocket" of disciples of John 
the Baptist. 61 Paul, therefore, baptized them in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, thus making them disciples of Christ instead of disciples of 
John. Furthermore, he saw to it that they recieved the baptism of the 
Holy Spirit as anticipated by John in his preaching about the 
Messiah ("He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit"). 

60 R. C. H. Lenski (The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel [Columbus, OH: 
Wartburg, 1943] 117), Albright and Mann (Matthew, 26) and Hill {Matthew, 94-95) all 
see the fire as hendiadys with Holy Spirit and, therefore, connected with the purifica- 
tory use of fire. W. C. Allen (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 
According to S. Matthew [ICC; New York: Scribner's, 1925] 24) and A. W. Argyle 
(The Gospel According to Matthew [The Cambridge Bible Commentary; Cambridge: 
Cambridge University, 1963] 36) suggest that the fire is to be seen in connection with 
the following verse. All agree that the following verse has to do with judgment. 
Hendriksen (Matthew, 209) concludes that "fire" here refers to both Pentecost (the 
tongues of fire in Acts 2:3) and the final judgment. 

61 J. Munck (The Acts of the Apostles [AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1967] 187) 
believes that this passage has reference only to Christians, not disciples of John the 
Baptist. This seems untenable to me. The text indicates that they were anticipating the 
coming of the Messiah (as all followers of John the Baptist did) but had not yet become 
aware of and adjusted to the dawning of the new age. Thus they had not yet become 
disciples of Christ through baptism in (siq) his name (v 5) and neither had they received 
the baptism of the Holy Spirit (vv 2, 6). Thus, they were manifestly in a pre-Pentecost 


Thus, water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism were closely 
associated. The repentance and commitment implicit within the NT 
concept of water baptism came to correspond, after Pentecost, to the 
endowment with and empowerment by the Holy Spirit for the life 
and lifestyle demanded by the commitment made in water baptism. 

Another important aspect of the background to NT baptism has 
to do with the concept of cleansing. It is likely that at the foundation 
the meaning of water rites had to do with washing away impurity, in 
particular, ritual impurity. This concept was probably never far from 
the mind of participants and observers. Surely it became sublimated 
to the concept of inner purity and repentance/ discipleship, but the 
basic character of the act (washing in water) could easily rise to the 
surface of a text and stand out. 

For example, in Acts 22:16 Paul was speaking to the mob in 
Jerusalem and recounting the story of his conversion to Christ. Part 
of Ananias' message is said to have been: "And now why do you 
delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on 
His name." Our background studies have shown that it was not 
uncommon to think of such rites as dependent upon an inner reality 
for their efficacy. This was clearly the case at Qumran. Certain scholars 
are convinced that the washings and immersions of mainline Judaism 
were likewise more than just physical. 

It is significant, I think, that in the context in which this verse is 
found, cleansing for purification stands out in a special way (Acts 
21:17-40). Paul was in the temple, doing the necessary rituals for 
Jewish purification (vv 24-26), when he was waylaid by "the Jews 
from Asia" (v 27). The message that he preached in Acts 22 was his 
defense before this angry mob. Is it not possible that since he was set 
upon within the temple complex and was making his defense there 
that he put his argument into terms particularly relevant to that 
setting? Paul is known to have taken a similar approach on other 
occasions (for example, see Acts 17:22-25). In any case, it is certainly 
neither exegetically necessary nor theologically cogent to see baptism 
as actually accomplishing the washing away of sins on the basis of 
this or similar passages. In fact, even within the system of Judaism, 
water accomplished only ritual purification, not the actual cleansing 
from sin. For the latter, sacrifice was generally necessary. This is clear 
enough even within the context of the scene in Acts 21 (cf. especially 
v 26). 62 

This is an important point which cannot be fully treated here. The distinction 
between ritual impurity and sin is not always clearly delineated in the Torah and in 
later Judaism, but it is relatively clear that sin and sinfulness required blood atone- 

averbeck: the focus of baptism IN THE NT 291 

It is likely that Heb 6:2 and 9:10 reflect a similar idea. The word 
used in both places is fiamioiioc,. Scholars are agreed that 9:10 
should be interpreted as referring to the lustrations of Judaism. 63 
However, there is disagreement on 6:2. Many writers 64 think of the 
reference to "instruction about washings" as having to do with Jewish 
lustrations which were continued by Jewish Christians after their 
conversion to Christ. This view has a number of arguments in its 
favor: 1) the two other certain occurrences of J3a7rciau6<; in the NT 
(Mark 7:4 and Heb 9:10) have to do with the levitical cleansings of 
Judaism; 2) to judge by the content of the book, the group to which 
this epistle was written was most certainly a predominantly Jewish 
Christian community of believers; 3) the decree set down by the 
Jerusalem council (Acts 15) suggests that it was normal for Jewish 
Christians to continue following all of the levitical regulations found 
in the law; 4) Paul is clearly adhering to Judaistic regulations in Acts 
21:17-26 (see the discussion above). 

On the other hand, there are other commentators 65 who think of 
Heb 6:2 as referring to instructions about Christian baptism. In 
support of this position there are such arguments as: 1) the more 
general term, PaTmauoc;, is used because the instruction had to do 
with the need to distinguish between the washings of Judaism and 
Christian baptism; 2) Acts 19:1-5 shows how there was confusion 
about the relationship between John's baptism and the Christian rite. 

The issue is not a simple one. There are good arguments on both 
sides. In fact, the error may be in trying to limit oneself to accepting 
one view or the other. The "instruction about washings" could easily 
refer to all of the various water rites which would have found a place 
in the repertoire of Jewish Christians. Obviously, if they were going 
to continue in their relationship to Judaism (as Paul did in Acts 21), 
they would need to understand all of the regulations pertaining to it. 
In the same way, it would have become important for them as 
Christian Jews to be instructed about Christian baptism. 

63 H. A. Kent, Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews (Winona Lake: BMH, 1972) 169 
B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (3d ed.; New York: MacMillan, 1906) 256 
H. Montefiore, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (HNTC; New York 
Harper and Row, 1964) 150. 

64 G. W. Buchanan, To the Hebrews (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1972) 104; 
F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 
114-16; T. Hewitt, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Tyndale; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1960) 105; K. S. Wuest, Hebrews in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1953) 112. 

65 Kent, Hebrews, 106; Montefiore, Hebrews, 105-6; N. R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ 
Today: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976) 121-22; 
F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (2 vols; transl. by T. L. 
Kingsbury; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1871), 1. 274-75. 


Once the connection between baptism and repentance/ discipleship 
is clearly understood, certain passages are no longer problematic. For 
example, in Acts 2:38 sic, cupsoiv tcov duapTiwv tiucov ("for the 
forgiveness of your sins") is connected with both J3a7rcia0TiTCD ("be 
baptized") and uexavor|aaT8 ("repent"). The Qumran emphasis upon 
repentance as the key to real efficacy in water informs us concerning 
the intent of this type of statement. As mentioned previously, even 
John, in his preaching, made it clear that his baptism was only valid 
if accompanied by genuine repentance (Matt 3:5-8; Luke 3:7-8). This 
association of baptism with repentance was carried directly into the 
church. The rite, as far as the NT canon is concerned, found its 
formative and ideological base in John the Baptist. Neither John the 
Baptist nor the apostolic church would have conceived of the rite as 
being efficacious 66 in the absence of genuine repentance. 

Secondary Developments 

There are two passages in the NT that have often been mistakenly 
understood to give the basic logic and meaning of baptism. They are 
Rom 6:1-11 and Col 2:8-15. Rom 6:1-7 makes use of the analogy 
between the believer's baptismal immersion (going down into the 
water and coming up again) and the death and resurrection of Christ. 
The believer is said to have died with Christ and thereby is dead to 

6 I am using the term "efficacious" in the sense of "accomplishing the purpose for 
which it is intended." The reader is not to understand the use of this word as indicating 
any leanings toward baptismal regeneration. On the contrary, baptism was not thought 
of as being effective on the level of regeneration. 

When used of John's baptism, it refers to the effectiveness of the rite in ac- 
complishing the purposes which he had for it, i.e., the implementation of his ministry 
in calling people to genuine repentance (Matt 3:2, 7-8) and gathering disciples around 
himself (John 4:1: "more disciples than John"). When referring to Christian baptism 
the "efficacy" of the rite has to do with concerns quite similar to those of John. It was 
intended to be used in the implementation of expressions of repentance and disciple- 
ship commitment in the context of initiation of new believers. It is quite clear both 
extrabiblically (see the discussion of Qumran) and biblically (see the discussion on 
John's rebuke of those who would be baptized and not repent. Matt 3:7-8 and Luke 
3:7-14) that baptism's "efficacy" was dependent upon the reality and genuineness of the 
repentance. At the risk of being redundant, it can be stated in this way: an implement 
can not be "efficacious" if it is not implementing that which it was intended to 

The point is that baptism was not the means of obtaining regeneration. Rather, it 
was an instrument adopted by the apostles and the apostolic church (under the 
direction of our Lord) for the purpose of implementing the expression of the repent- 
ance necessarily associated with regeneration as well as the discipleship commitment 
that was inherent within that repentance. If the repentant mind-set and discipleship 
commitment did not in reality exist in a particular instance, then, in that instance, the 
efficacy of the baptism was short circuited since it (baptism) was intended to be the 
means of implementing the expression of genuine repentance and commitment. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 293 

sin and self (vv 6-7). Likewise, one is said to have the prospect of 
coming to new life with Christ and is thereby exhorted to live in the 
light of that prospect (vv 4 and ll). 67 

Whereas Romans 6 is often used in support of the immersion 
mode, Colossians 2 is often used to support a direct connection 
between OT circumcision and NT baptism. Surely, "having been 
buried with Him in baptism" (v 12) is reminiscent of Romans 6. But 
the reference to circumcision here adds a new dimension to the 
discussion. On the basis of this reference to circumcision, baptism is 
thought, by some, to be the covenant seal of the church just as 
circumcision was the covenant seal of Israel. 68 

It is not within the purview of this paper to discuss the exegesis 
of these passages in great detail. Yet, some remarks are necessary. 

There are some who think that Romans 6 refers to Holy Spirit 
baptism and has no direct reference to water baptism. 69 This does 
not, however, seem likely in light of the imagery being used. Surely, 
the empowerment for the new life is initiated by the baptism of the 
Holy Spirit, but there is no dichotomy or antagonism between water 
and spirit baptism in the early church. They were seen as complemen- 
tary. This is why they were so closely linked in their administration 
(Acts 10:44-48; 19:1-7). It is not likely that the people of that day 
would have read Romans 6 and reasoned that it could not be 
referring to water baptism because there is no real efficacy in water 
baptism. Rather, they came to this passage already knowing that the 
implications of water baptism had to do with repentance/ discipleship 
and the lifestyle befitting such a commitment. That is why this 
reference to baptism fits well in a context where the point has to do 
with sanctification. Consider the context before and after the direct 
reference to baptism: 

Rom 6:1-2 

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might 
increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 

Rom 6:12 

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should 
obey its lusts, 

J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon 
(Revised; New York: MacMillan, 1879) 184. 

H. M. Carson, Colossians and Philemon (Tyndale; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1960) 67; H. C. G. Moule, Colossians and Philemon Studies (Westwood: Revell, n.d.) 

H. A. Kent, Jr., Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Colossians and Philemon 
(Winona Lake: BMH, 1978) 86. 


Rom 6:15 

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? 
May it never be! 

Daube 70 has suggested that the idea of new life associated with 
coming up out of the baptismal waters is found in Jewish proselyte 
baptism. He therefore assumes that it is on the basis of Paul's Jewish 
background that he used the identical imagery here. Though this 
interpretation is not impossible, it is still not at all certain that Jewish 
proselyte baptism had been instituted at the time of the writing of the 
epistle to the Romans. Furthermore, the fact that this supposed 
allusion is based upon a reference in the Talmud, which, though it 
may reflect earlier traditions, is relatively late, is not in Daube's favor. 

Other writers such as Lohse, 71 Kasemann, 72 and Bornkamm, 73 
think that the background to Romans 6 comes from the Hellenistic 
mystery cults. The idea of dying and rising with the god(s) was used 
by the apostle Paul since his readers would have been familiar with 
such doctrines. According to these scholars, that is why Paul writes 
". . . do you not know" in Rom 6:3. 

In any case, Romans 6 must not be taken to be a statement of 
the basic meaning of baptism. The statement here is actually a 
secondary development based upon either the cultural/ religious back- 
ground of the people to whom Paul was writing or the nature of the 
baptismal act (used metaphorically). The primary implications of 
baptism, however, are clearly reflected in the text. The whole point of 
the passage and the use of baptism within the passage have to do with 
sanctification/discipleship. Paul is exhorting the Roman Christians to 
live in accordance with their baptismal commitment. 

Col 2:8-15 has affinities with Romans 6 but is in a context where 
the polemical nature of the argument is even more pronounced. 
Paul's concern has to do with the Colossian heresy. Though difficult 
to define, this heresy seems to have been heavily oriented toward 
Hellenistic religious philosophy (perhaps an incipient gnosticism). 74 
Certain elements from Judaism may have been combined with this 
alien religious philosophy. 

™See n. 32. 
E. Lohse, Colossians and Philemon (Hermenia; Philadelphia: Fortress 1971) 101- 

E. Kasemann, Commentary on Romans (transl. and ed. G. W. Bromiley; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) 160-61. His discusion is confusing but he does seem to 
question the awareness of those who would deny Hellenistic background here. 

73 G. Bornkamm, "Baptism and New Life in Paul (Romans 6)" Early Christian 
Experience (New York and Evanston: Harper and Row, 1969) 85 n. 5. 
Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, 2-3. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 295 

"Circumcision" here may refer directly to the OT rite instituted 
in Genesis 17. If so, then "a circumcision made without hands" (v 1 1) 
is reminiscent of passages like Deut 10:16. Thus, "the circumcision of 
Christ" (v 11) refers to Christ as the one who performs the "circum- 
cision made without hands." In other words, Christ is the one who 
has brought us into the covenant relationship with God by means of 
regeneration. 5 

Lohse offers another explanation. He thinks this circumcision 
should be understood in terms of syncretistic practices in mystery 
cults. After rejecting this as a reference to the sign of the OT covenant 
between Israel and Yahweh he writes: 

"Circumcision" is rather understood as a sacramental rite by which a 
person entered the community and gained access to salvation. The 
reference to the phrase "putting off the body of flesh" . . . suggests the 
practices of mystery cults. In the initiation rites the devotee had to lay 
aside what previously had served him as clothing so that he could be 
filled with divine power. Jewish terminology, in this case, would clearly 
function as a means of giving greater authority and appeal to the 
sacramental rite of initiation. 

Thus, Paul's point here would be that the removal of the sinful flesh, 
as taught by the syncretistic mystery religions, was really accom- 
plished by Christ. The Colossians need not adhere to the teachings of 
those cults. They have been freed from any need to be concerned with 
such things (vv 16-20). 

Though Lohse would like to deny any direct connection with OT 
circumcision, he does allow for an allusion to it, though veiled by the 
associated ideas from the mystery religions. According to the more 
common view given previously, the reference to circumcision has to 
do with the OT rite understood metaphorically as in Rom 2:29. The 
point, in either case, has to do with the metaphorical implications of 
baptism. Their baptism pointed toward the removal of fleshly 
sinfulness and the judgment of God because of it (vv 12-15). Thus, 
since they were made alive together with Him (v 13) they were to 
"keep seeking the things above" (Col 3:1). 

Bornkamm 78 has analyzed Romans 6 and come to the conclusion 
that Paul does not offer a new doctrine of baptism here. Instead, Paul 

Kent, Colossians and Philemon, 85-86. 

Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, 102. 

H. A. Kent {Colossians and Philemon, 86) thinks the baptism here refers to 
Spirit baptism. Most other commentators assume, as I do, that the reference is to water 
baptism, which is closely associated with Spirit baptism in the book of Acts (see 

78 Bornkamm, "Baptism and New Life," 71-86. 


followed "the understanding of baptism already disseminated in the 
Hellenistic congregations." 79 Though I would not necessarily agree 
that the argument of Romans 6 is based upon Hellenistic back- 
ground, it is certain that neither Romans 6 nor Colossians 2 actually 
present a doctrine of baptism. This is clear from the study of the 
background and basic meaning of baptism in the NT as explained in 
the previous sections of this article. Further evidence of this is found 
in the texts themselves. For example, in Rom 6:5, 8 the rising with 
Christ is spoken of as future, whereas, in Col 2:12-13 it is an event 
already completed in baptism. 80 This is no problem once one re- 
cognizes that Paul is using the rite of baptism in these texts in an 
illustrative or metaphorical manner. 

Another passage in which baptism is used metaphorically is Gal 
3:27. Burton suggests two possible interpretations of "you . . . have 
clothed yourselves" (eveSuoaaOe): 

This may have been that in baptism one was, as it were clothed with 
the water, or, possibly, that the initiate was accustomed to wear a 
special garment. 81 

In either case, again, the passage is metaphorical or, at least, not 
intended to give the basic logic behind baptism. 

Romans 6, Colossians 2, and Galatians 3 all refer to water 
baptism. They refer to it in such a way as to make a point in the 
context. Baptism was common to the experience of all Christians and 
therefore was something Paul could use in parenetically or polemically 
oriented contexts. This he did. Yet, it is clear from 1 Cor 1:10-17 that 
he knew the basic implications of baptism to be related to discipleship. 
This discipleship orientation was not far removed from his arguments 
in these passages. 

Analogical Developments 

There are two particularly unusual references to baptism in the 
NT. 1 Cor 10:2 speaks of the Israelites being "baptized into Moses" 
when they came out of Egypt. 1 Pet 3:21 refers to Christian baptism 
as "corresponding to" (dvciTimov) the salvation of Noah and his 
party by means of the ark. 

"ibid, 85 n. 5. 

80 Ibid, 77. See also H. D. Betz (Galatians [Hermenia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979] 
186) who says: "The phrase "baptized into Christ" can be and actually was interpreted 
in different ways, even by Paul himself." In n. 44 he points to Romans 6 and 
Colossians 2 along with other passages. 

E. D. Burton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Galatians (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1921) 206. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 297 

The context of 1 Corinthians 9-10 is important. Toward the end 
of chap. 9 Paul is speaking about his desire to "do all things for the 
sake of the gospel" so that he might become "a fellow-partaker of it" 
(9:23). He concludes the chapter with a statement of his determina- 
tion to keep on pursuing the prize "lest possibly, after I have 
preached to others, I myself should be disqualified" (9:27). 

That these are valid concerns is then made clear by historical 
references back to the time of the exodus from Egypt under Moses. 
He refers to the cloud that led them by day (Exod 13:21) and the 
deliverance through the sea (Exod 14:22). Then, he summarizes these 
references by saying: "and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud 
in the sea." This and other historical occurrences are referred to as 
"examples (Turcot) for us" (1 Cor 10:6). The apostle Paul used these 
references to exhort, yea, to warn the Corinthians: "therefore let him 
who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10:12). The 
Israelites who came out of Egypt and experienced those initial 
blessings with Moses were not guaranteed constant favor before the 
Lord aside from continued obedience to his desires (1 Cor 10:5, 9-11). 
Neither should the Corinthians expect that their baptism (1 Cor 10:2) 
and their participation in the Lord's supper (1 Cor 10:3-4) would 
guarantee them favor before the Lord apart from continued obe- 

Burton, in his fine commentary on Galatians, has suggested that 
here again Paul is arguing against the mystery religions: 

I Cor 10:1-2 makes it probable that the Corinthians were putting 
upon their Christian baptism the interpretation suggested by the mys- 
tery religions, viz., that it secured their salvation. Against this view 
Paul protests, using the case of the Israelites passing through the Red 
Sea, which he calls a baptism into Moses to show that baptism without 
righteousness does not render one acceptable to God. This may, of 
course, signify only that he conceived that the effect of baptism was not 
necessarily permanent, or that to baptism it is necessary to add a 
righteous life. But it is most naturally interpreted as a protest against 
precisely that doctrine of the magical efficiency of physical rites which 
the mystery religions had made current. 82 

Burton is surely correct in his evaluation of the point that Paul was 
making, though he has possibly put too much emphasis on it being a 
polemic against the mystery religions. Even within the circles of 
Judaism it was necessary to point out that baptisms and/ or lustra- 
tions were efficacious only if accompanied by repentance (see the 
discussion on Qumran and John the Baptist). At any rate, it is clear 

2 Ibid., 205. 


that, to be "baptized into Moses" was to be brought into a relation- 
ship with Moses which was to have an effect upon one's lifestyle from 
that point and onward. If that lifestyle commitment should be 
aborted, so will the position of favor. 

Therefore, 1 Cor 10:2 is reminiscent of our earlier discussions on 
the necessity of inner cleansing by means of genuine repentance 
before any lustration/ baptism can be efficacious. Baptism is not a 
guarantee of one's permanent acceptance before God. 

It has been in vogue to conceive of 1 Peter as a "baptismal tract" 
with 1 Pet 3:21 and other supposed allusions to baptism in the book 
being considered of the utmost importance. 83 In my opinion, David 
Hill, 84 has delivered the coup de grace to these ingenious theories. He 
is correct when he writes: 

All theories about the pervasiveness of the baptismal theme in 1 
Peter are embarassed by the fact that the word 'baptism' occurs only 
once in the letter, and that in a statement which is virtually paren- 
thetical (3:21). 85 

The First Epistle of Peter is clearly concerned about the suffering 
of believers. This is clear from the beginning (1 Pet 1:6-7), to the 
middle (1 Pet 3:13-18), to the end (1 Pet 5:10). Thus, there have been 
numerous attempts to comprehend a link between baptism and 
suffering that would explain such an emphasis upon suffering in what 
has been thought of as a baptismal tract. Some of these attempts have 
been reviewed by Brooks and Hill. Hill, himself, offers an altogether 
different understanding of the link between baptism and suffering: 

The link between baptism and suffering (such as would befall Chris- 
tians in a hostile environment) may be accounted for simply and 
adequately by assuming that, since baptism was the occasion and the 
sign of voluntary self-commitment to the Christian way, those who 
offered themselves for the rite were aware, through their knowledge of 
what Christians endured, that this way on which they were embarking 
would inevitably involve suffering. Acceptance of the consequences of 
becoming and being known as a Christian was implied in the ac- 
ceptance of baptism. In short, a Christian's suffering and his baptism 
are linked because, in accepting baptism, he is affirming willingness to 
share in the known experience of baptised persons who were com- 
monly, if not constantly treated with suspicion and hostility. 86 

"O. S. Brooks, "I Peter 3:21— The Clue to the Literary Structure of the Epistle" 
NovT 16 (1974) 290-305. 

84 D. Hill, "On Suffering and Baptism in I Peter" NovT 18 (1976) 181-89. 
85 lbid., 186. 
86 Ibid., 184-85. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism in the nt 299 

This statement reflects an understanding of the emphasis upon dis- 
cipleship which was an instrinsic part of baptism in the apostolic age. 
As far as the effects of this view on the cherished idea that 1 Peter is a 
baptismal liturgy or tract are concerned, Hill goes on to say: 

The consequences of this view (and its simplicity is its strength) are to 
make the baptismal theme quite subsidiary, almost incidental, to the 
main purpose and meaning of I Peter. 87 

The Greek of 1 Pet 3:21 is difficult, but Wuest offerd a reasonable 
explanation. 88 He points out that the relative pronoun (6) is neuter. 
Thus, it refers back to the "water" (CSaioc;, neuter) and not the "ark" 
(KifkoToO, feminine) in v 20. Therefore, he translates "which (water) 
as a counterpart now saves you, (namely) baptism." Consequently the 
water of Noah's day is made to correspond with the water of baptism. 
Obviously, the ark would correspond more adequately to salvation, 
but this does not fit with the imagery of water in the context. Peter 
was not concerned about exact correspondence (dviixuTtov, v 20) in 
all details. Rather, he was centering upon the issue of water in order 
to use baptism as an analogy to Noah's deliverance through the 
suffering and judgment of his day. 

Peter went on to insure that his use of baptism would not be 
misunderstood. We read, "not the removal of dirt from the flesh." 
This recalls the need to keep in mind that the external washing 
involved in Christian baptism was not the key issue. The association 
of water baptism with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whether 
anticipated by John the Baptist ("I baptize you in water for repen- 
tance; but He who is coming after me . . . will baptize you with the 
Holy Spirit and fire," Matt 3:1 1) or administered as such in the early 
church (for example, Acts 10:44-48), makes it clear that the water rite 
could not be rightly thought of in isolation from a divinely oriented 
and empowered lifestyle. 

There is also a positively stated element within this qualification 
of baptism. It is translated, "but an appeal (e7tepci)Tr|pa) to God for a 
good conscience." There are three possible meanings for the word 
ETrspcbtriua: 89 1) "question," "inquiry," "interrogation," which does 
not seem to fit in this context, 2) "prayer," "appeal," which is the 
translation given in NASB, and 3) "pledge," "undertaking," which is 

'Ibid., 185. 

3 K. S. Wuest, First Peter (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1942) 108-9. 

'Hill, "I Peter," 187. 


supported by papyrological evidence. If the third meaning is ac- 
cepted, the translation would be something like "but is a pledge of 
good will to God." 90 Hill concludes: 

. . . £7i£pd)xr|ua will be interpreted as a response or assent to a covenant 
obligation, an agreement to maintain righteousness, through obedi- 
ence, in the future. . . . The characterisation of baptism in 3:21 would 
then be as follows: not so much the abandonment of the moral failures 
of the pre-Christian life as a firm response to God, a commitment to 
maintain before the world an upright life of which one need not be 
ashamed. 91 

This discussion of 1 Pet 3:21 provides a fitting conclusion to our 
analysis of the NT doctrine of baptism. Even in passages which are 
based upon the analogical use of baptism, the purpose for referring to 
baptism is to reinforce the demand for the kind of lifestyle that is 
appropriate for one who is a disciple of Christ. 


The background of water lustrations in general, and baptism, in 
particular, has been studied. This has been done in order to attempt 
to recreate the ideological framework for a better understanding of 
baptism's meaning, implications, and associations during the days of 
John the Baptist, our Lord, and the beginnings of the church age. 

Baptism had affinities with the quasi-physical cleansings of Juda- 
ism and retained the impact of that. Yet, that cleansings and baptisms 
were not to be considered effective before God without the accom- 
panying genuine repentance was taught by the Qumranians and John 
the Baptist. Furthermore, it is manifestly clear that baptism was 
inextricably bound to discipleship. It did not just point to the 
washing away of sins (Acts 22:16) and repentance (Acts 2:38), but it 
forcefully demonstrated that the person undergoing the baptism was 
willing to stand for Christ and live for him (John 4:1, Matt 28:19, 
etc.). Baptism had a forward look. It was a rite of commitment and 
dedication. It was not only a demonstration of faith but a promise of 

Since baptism was naturally a part of every Christian's initiation, 
it was common to all. Therefore, it could be referred to in illustrative, 
metaphorical, or analogical ways. In this manner, it was used by the 
apostles Paul and Peter in parenetically and polemically oriented 

B. Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 
1964) 106. 

"Hill, "I Peter," 188-89. 

averbeck: the focus of baptism IN THE NT 301 

situations. These passages, however, still tend to reflect the fact that 
the basic idea behind baptism as a Christian initiatory rite had to do 
with its implications for discipleship. 


There is nothing more important in this life than one's relation- 
ship to the Lord. It was Christ who said "no one of you can be My 
disciple who does not give up all his own possessions" (Luke 14:33). 
Christ must occupy first place if one is to be properly called a 
"disciple." What, then, are the implications of the fact that baptism 
was both part of the initiation of every believer and directly con- 
nected with discipleship commitment? Obviously, they did not, and in 
fact, could not conceive of someone expressing saving faith in Christ 
without a corresponding commitment of faithfulness toward him as 
one of his disciples. 

The contemporary church might do well to recognize that the 
early church in the book of Acts associated baptism with commit- 
ment. Surely, salvation was by grace through faith. But the kind of 
faith that saved was not passive. It was active and drove a person 
toward commitment and faithfulness. The true (universal) church was 
made up of people with that kind of faith. The local church strove for 
that kind of membership as is demonstrated by the ideology behind 
water baptism and the association of water baptism with Spirit 

God wants local churches that are committed to doing his will. 
Such a church can only exist when it is made up of believers that are 
committed to doing his will. A proper understanding and administra- 
tion of water baptism can be useful as a means of demonstrating the 
central importance of discipleship commitment in salvation and local 
church membership. 




R. Larry Overstreet 

The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are integral parts of those 
Gospels. They are remarkably precise documents, each accomplishing 
the aim of testifying to God's design in the birth of Jesus Christ. This 
article presents the purposes and peculiarities of each genealogy, and 
also examines the difficulties of interpretation attendant to them. 
Special attention is focused on the difficulties found when Matthew is 
compared to the OT, and on the difficulties found when Matthew is 
compared to Luke. Both genealogies are reckoned as accurate in even 
the smallest details. 

The NT opens with an arresting prefatory record of names. 
Many readers probably pass over them as being of no practical 
value. However, this genealogy which opens the NT is, in many 
respects, one of the most important documents in the Scriptures. 
Much of the Bible stands or falls with its accuracy. If the Word of 
God contains mistakes in this section, how is any of it to be trusted, 
for this is the connecting link between the OT and NT? 

Evidently, genealogies were available to the ancient public, and it 
could be established easily if a person had a legitimate claim to any 
particular line. For example, Ezra 2:62 states, "These sought their 
register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were 
not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood." 
This demonstrates how it was then possible to check the register of 
the tribe of Levi and remove those that made a false claim. The 
genealogy given in Matthew was important for the same reason of 
establishing a legitimate claim to a particular line. 

This does not mean, however, that no difficulties exist in 
Matthew's genealogy. Some difficulties exist when Matthew is 


compared to the OT, and some exist when Matthew is compared to 
Luke's genealogy. However, 

. . . allowing the Divine inspiration of the authors, we must grant that 
they could make no mistakes in any point, and especially on a subject 
where the truth of the Gospel history, and the fulfillment of the ancient 
prophecies are so nearly concerned. 

In this article the difficulties between Matthew and the OT and 
also between Matthew and Luke will be examined closely, the various 
solutions given, and a conclusion reached concerning each of them. 
Many of the difficulties can be answered with relative ease. However, 
some of them present greater problems and must be considered more 


Several difficulties have been observed when the genealogy of 
Matthew is compared to the OT genealogical records. 

Source of Matthew's genealogy 

From all indications public records were kept in the temple of 
the genealogies of families before and during the time of Christ. The 

'Adam Clarke, The Gospel According to St. Luke in vol. 5 of Clarke's Commen- 
tary (New York: Abingdon, n.d.) 385. Not all scholars have such a high view of the 
inspiration and historical accuracy of the genealogies. For example. Hood approaches 
them from the perspective of form criticism and evaluates them on the basis of the way 
other genealogies in Greek, Roman, and Jewish history were used. He questions 
whether Jesus' relatives, or even Jesus himself, even knew what their ancestry was, and 
postulates that the genealogies, in reality, provide a context toward understanding 
early Christian attitudes toward Jesus. His view, while well presented, must be rejected 
by those who believe in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. See Rodney T. Hood, "The 
Genealogies of Jesus," in Early Christian Origins: Studies in Honor of Harold R. 
Willoughb\\ ed. Allen Wikgren (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1961) 1-15. 

Although Abel does not follow the form-critical approach, he also calls into 
question the historicity and veracity of the genealogies. Indeed, before he enters into 
his discussion as to when and why the genealogies were written he states: "Given that 
both the Matthean and Lucan genealogies are therefore not historical, a number of 
questions present themselves. . . ." E. L. Abel, "The Genealogies of Jesus O KRICTOC," 
NTS 20 (1974)205. 

Perhaps the most thorough examination of the genealogies of Christ was under- 
taken by Johnson. Writing from the critical point of view he considers virtually every 
difficulty the genealogies pose, but does so with the assumption that they are fictional 
in character. While his exhaustive treatment is helpful in that it places many problems 
in focus, it is not of great value to the researcher who believes in verbal inspiration and 
who accepts the historicity and veracity of the accounts as they stand in Scripture. See 
Marshall D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies, (SNTSMS 8; 
Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1969) 139-256. 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 305 

passage noted earlier in Ezra shows that these records were available 
and were accounted completely accurate. This fact has led some to 
believe that Matthew copied this genealogy as a whole from some 
existing record either public or private. There is nothing inherently 
negative in this supposition, and the document copied would have the 
seal of inspiration to validate its accuracy. However, 

It seems more natural to think that Matthew framed the list 
himself from the OT and the Jewish records. Some of its peculiarities, 
e.g. the incidental mention of certain females are best explained as 
having been introduced by him, with a special design. 2 

Meaning of Matthew 1:1 

Matt 1:1 uses the phrase "book of the generation" ((3ip?ioc; 
yeveaecoc;). Two views exist as to the meaning of this particular 
phrase. The first is stated by Allen: "It seems probable that the title 
should be taken as covering not the whole Gospel, but only that 
portion of it which gives Christ's ancestry and the circumstances of 
His birth and childhood." 3 This is a possibility and is supported by 
the use of the same Greek word for "generation," translated "birth" 
(yeveaic;), in v 18. The second view appeals to similar phrases used in 
the OT. The phrase, "These are the generations" is used in Gen 2:4 
(Dll7in n?N; Ai5tt| r| ptp?coc; yeveaecoc;, LXX), where it covers the 
history of the creation of the heaven and earth; it is also used in 
Gen 37:2 (nll^n H^X; autai 5e ai yeveaeic;, LXX), where it encom- 
passes the history of Jacob; it is found again in Num 3:1 (HyX"] 
niVifl, Kai auiai ai yeveaeic;, LXX), where it refers to the lives and 
acts of Moses and Aaron. The same phrase, "These are the genera- 
tions," is also used in Gen 6:9 (Dl/ifi H/X, Auxai 5e ai yeveaeic;, 
LXX), in Gen 10:1 (rnVin nVxi, AuxaiSe ai yeveaeic;, LXX), in 
Gen 11:10 (H^X fTI/in, Kai aOtai ai yeveaeic;, LXX), in Gen 11:27 
(rnVin nVxi, A5iai 5e ai yeveaeic;, LXX), and Ruth 4:18 (H^X 
ni7in, Kai autai ai yeveaeic;, LXX), where in each instance it 
functions to introduce genealogies. 

A similar phrase, "This is the book of the generations," occurs in 
the Hebrew text of Gen 5:1 (mVifl "!?? ^JX where it covers the life 
of Adam and his immediate descendants. The LXX translation of this 
verse (Amr\ r\ (3i(3Xoc; yeveaecoc;) is identical to the LXX of Gen 2:4; 
in both cases the phrase appears to function in a broad sense as an 

2 John A. Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia: Ameri- 
can Baptist Publication Society, 1881) 2. 

3 Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 
According to Matthew (ICC; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910) 2. 


introduction to an entire history. Since this is the phrase adopted by 
Matt 1:1 (pipXoc; yeveoeax;), it seems best to understand it as not 
being a reference to the birth alone of Christ, but rather as an 
introduction to his life and acts. In other words, the phrase seems to 
introduce the complete book of Matthew. 4 

Matt 1:1 mentions Christ immediately as being the descendant of 
two men, Abraham and David. The reason for this pointed beginning 
is significant. 

By starting with Abraham it becomes evident that from the 
physical standpoint here is a racial, or Jewish, genealogy and yet since 
David is named before Abraham the emphasis is seen to be placed 
upon the Davidic aspect. Thus the fact of Jesus' Abrahamic sonship is 
made to be secondary to His Davidic sonship. 

Peculiarities regarding names 

As the first chapter in Matthew is read, several peculiarities 
strike the eye regarding the names found there. These will each be 
dealt with at this time. 

Spelling variations. Perhaps the most obvious thing is the differ- 
ence in spelling, as found in the King James Version, between the 

4 Biischel argues for the former view: "This expression goes back to nil/lri "1DD 
or Tl nVx (Gn. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 37:2; Ju [sic] 4:18); LXX: aCin f| pip)Joc, 
yeveaeax; or autai ai yeveaeic,. The formula is used to introduce genealogies or 
historical narratives (Gn. 6:9; 37:2) or the two together. The question whether Mt. 1:1 
is a heading for the whole book or just for the genealogy in 1:2-17 cannot be decided 
from OT parallels. The OT ptp^oi yeveoeax; are not always the same, and as 
genealogies they are named after the ancestors rather than the descendants. The OT 
usage is undoubtedly changed here. Since, however, v. 17 refers back to v. 1 with its 
mention of Abraham and David, v. 1 is obviously meant to introduce vv. 2-17. Again, 
such a heading is clearly needed, since otherwise no one would know what the 
reference was in v. 2" (F. Biischell, "yeveaic,," TDNT 1 [1964] 683). 

Gilchrist provides necessary modification to Biischel: "As used in the OT, toledot 
refers to what is produced or brought into being by someone, or follows therefrom. In 
no case in Genesis does the word include the birth of the individual whose toledot it 
introduces (except in Gen 25:19, where the story of Isaac's life is introduced by 
reference to the fact that he was the son of Abraham). After the conclusion of the 
account in which Jacob was the principal actor. Gen 37:2 says, 'These are the toledot of 
Jacob' and proceeds to tell about his children and the events with which they were 

"In line with these usages it is reasonable to interpret Gen 2:4, 'These are the 
toledot of heaven and earth,' as meaning, not the coming of heaven and earth into 
existence, but the events that followed the establishment of heaven and earth" (P. R. 
Gilchrist, "T/*," Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament [ed. R. L. Harris, B. K. 
Waltke, and G. Archer; Chicago: Moody, 1981], 1. 380). 

5 W. W. Barndollar, Jesus' Title to the Throne of David (Findlay: Dunham, 
1963) 24. 

overstreet: difficulties OF NT genealogies 


names in the OT and the same names recorded in the NT. In 
understanding the reason for this it is necessary to remember that the 
translators of the OT transliterated names directly from Hebrew to 
English. In coming to the NT, however, there was a dual translitera- 
tion, first from Hebrew into Greek, and then from the Greek into 
English. Also, the Greek language is not able in some respects to 
express adequately Hebrew letters. For example, there is no "h" 
sound in Greek except to begin a word or in diphthongs. Then, too, 
the translators were not as precise as they could have been at times in 
the King James Version. Other translations of the Bible, such as the 
New American Standard Bible have used a consistent English spelling 
of the names in both the OT and the NT. Another point is that the 
translators of the LXX were not as precise in transliteration as they 
could have been. The Jews were then familiar with the Greek spelling 
of the names as found in the LXX and the NT writers used those 
names which were familiar to the people. 6 

Arbitrary Arrangement. The next peculiarity which usually comes 
to attention is the seemingly arbitrary arrangement of names by 
Matthew into three groups of fourteen each. To help see this arrange- 
ment the groups will be placed in columns. 

Chart I 

1. Abraham 

2. Isaac 

3. Jacob 

4. Judah 

5. Perez 

6. Hezron 

7. Ram 

8. Amminadab 

9. Nahshon 

10. Salmon 

11. Boaz 

12. Obed 

13. Jesse 

14. David 

1. Solomon 

2. Rehoboam 

3. Abijah 

4. Asa 

5. Jehoshaphat 

6. Joram 

7. Uzziah 

8. Jotham 

9. Ahaz 

10. Hezekiah 

11. Manasseh 

12. Amon 

13. Josiah 

14. Jechoniah 

1. Jechoniah 

2. Shealtiel 

3. Zerubbabel 

4. Abiud 

5. Eliakim 

6. Azor 

7. Zadok 

8. Achim 

9. Eliud 

10. Eleazar 

11. Matthan 

12. Jacob 

13. Joseph 

14. Jesus 

The second group consists entirely of kings; this list was apparently 
taken from 1 Chr 3:10-14. Some names have been omitted in this 
arrangement and this fact will be dealt with in a later section of this 
paper. Jechoniah is counted twice, perhaps because of the emphasis 

'Broadus, Matthew, 3. 


placed on him in regards to the Babylonian captivity. A definite 
break occurs between vv 11-12 with v 12 taking up a new thought — 
the Jews were taken captive. 

A question arises as to why Matthew has 14 names in each 
group, and three suggestions have been given. Scroggie, in seeking to 
explain this, writes concerning the name David, "The letters of proper 
names had a numerical value, and in this name D-4, V-6, D-4, make 
a total of 14, and this fact may have led Matthew to divide his 
genealogy into three parts of 14 generations each." 

A second suggestion relates the 14 generations to the prophets 
Jeremiah and Daniel seeing special numerical significances. Ropes is 
an example of this approach: 

Jewish sacred arithmetic had found it necessary to calculate the 
future by the aid of Jeremiah's prophecy of God's salvation after 
seventy years; and in Daniel we find this interpreted as seventy weeks 
of years, or 490 years. Here in Matthew the methods of the rabbis are 
used, and the period from the initial promise to Abraham, by which 
the Jewish religion was really founded, to the birth of the Messiah is 
figured at three times seventy weeks of years, or three times fourteen 
generations which is the same thing. Thus at the exact fit time of 
prophecy and moreover of the lineage of David — in very truth the Son 
of David — Jesus who is called Christ is born. 8 

A third solution is that Matthew arranged the lists for literary 
symmetry. Lenski states: "It seems most likely that Matthew found 14 
names in the first group and then arranged the rest in two more 
groups of 14." 9 The simplicity and directness of this third solution 

7 W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Gospels (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1958) 

James Hardy Ropes, The Synoptic Gospels (Cambridge: Harvard University, 
1934) 46-47. Two other approaches using a numerical significance idea are presented 
by Bruns: "He [Matthew] wanted, then, to emphasize the number fourteen. Why? 
Possibly because fourteen is twice seven (the perfect number), or possibly because three 
groups of fourteen are equivalent to six sevens, indicating that the seventh seven, the 
period of Jubilee (cf. Lev 25:8ff.), is now to follow. . . ." J. Edgar Bruns, "Matthew's 
Genealogy of Jesus," The Bible Today 15 (1964) 981-82. The whole problem of biblical 
numerology is outside the scope of this article. However, anyone desiring further study 
on this issue should consult John J. Davis, Biblical Numerology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel (Columbus: 
Wartburg, 1943) 37. See also John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come 
(Chicago: Moody, 1974) 18. Newman also discusses the arrangement of names into 
three groups of 14 each. Instead of having Jechoniah conclude the second group and 
begin the third, he has David conclude the first group and begin the second. However, 
it seems that the emphasis of the text at Matt 1:11-12 stresses Jechoniah much more 
than 1:6 stresses David. Therefore, this writer favors Jechoniah as being the more 
pivotal figure. See Barclay M. Newman, Jr., "Matthew 1.1-18: Some Comments and a 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 309 

makes it the most probable answer to why Matthew so arranged his 
lists of names. 

"All" the generations. Another concern regarding the names 
listed is the statement in Matt 1:17 that this is "all" the generations. 
Obviously, the "all" here does not mean every generation that actually 
lived from Abraham to Jesus. This "all" is simply referring back to 
those names Matthew has enumerated. He did not merely copy a list, 
but arranged it in a purposeful way. 

Omission of names. A further complexity is that Matthew 
omitted some names in his genealogy. Several names which are 
recorded in other genealogies demonstrate this. 

The first difficulty along this line is encountered in Matt 1:5-6 
(see also Luke 3:32). From Perez to David both Matthew and Luke 
are in agreement with Ruth 4:18-22; however, a chronological diffi- 
culty is found in the time between Salmon and David. Salmon 
married Rahab the harlot of Jericho. The fall of Jericho took place 
about the year 1400 B.C. and David was born about the year 1040 b.c. 
(see 2 Sam 5:4). Thus, a gap of about 360 years exists here with only 
three names between Salmon and David — Boaz, Obed, Jesse. Two 
possible solutions to this difficulty prevail. The first is to hold to a 
late date for the Exodus and thereby shorten the time gap some 
200 years. While many hold to the late date of the Exodus, this writer 
is of the conviction that there is no substantiating proof for this 
view. The second solution is to hold that there is an omission of 
names found here. This is further substantiated by the fact that only 
five names are listed between Perez and Nahshon a gap of some 300 
to 400 years. To attempt to likewise shorten this time gap causes 
considerable consternation in chronology. 11 

The second omission is found in Matt 1:8 where, according to a 
comparison with 1 Chr 3:10-12 there is an omission of Ahaziah, 
Joash, and Amaziah. The Uzziah of Matt 1:8 is equivalent to the 

Suggested Restructuring," The Bible Translator 27 (1976) 209-12. Raymond E. Brown 
(The Birth of the Messiah [Garden City: Doubleday, 1977] 74-84) thoroughly discusses 
this problem and concludes that the pattern of 3x14 indicates that "God planned from 
the beginning and with precision the Messiah's origins." 

10 For discussion of the arguments favoring the early date, as opposed to the late 
date, of the exodus see Leon T. Wood, "Date of the Exodus," in New Perspectives on 
the Old Testament, ed. J. Barton Payne (Waco: Word, 1970) 66-87; also see Bruce K. 
Waltke, "Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus," 
BSac 129 (1972) 33-47. 

"That biblical chronologies occasionally do have gaps is also discussed by John C. 
Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (Philadelphia: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1965) 474-89. Although their discussion relates specifically to chronol- 
ogies in Genesis, the principles can be applied to other genealogies as well. 


Azariah of 1 Chr 3:12. Matthew omitted these names to secure 
symmetry in this genealogy "and these particular persons might 
naturally be selected for omission, because they were immediate 
descendants of Ahab and Jezebel." 12 There was nothing unusual 
about shortening a genealogy. An example of this can be found by 
comparing Ezra 7:1-5 with 1 Chr 6:3-15. In Ezra only 16 generations 
are recorded between Ezra and Aaron while in 1 Chronicles 22 
generations are recorded. Thus, Ezra shortened his genealogy and as 
a matter of fact even omitted his own father, Jehozadak. Apparently 
to the Jewish mind this was a proper thing to do, and it is not 
unusual to find Matthew omitting names in his genealogy. 

The third omission is found in Matt 1:11 where, according to 
1 Chr 3:15-16, Jehoiakim has been omitted. One solution that has 
been offered is to add the name Jehoiakim between Josiah and 
Jechoniah. This is supported by some later manuscripts, but is not 
found in the better mss or even the Textus Receptus as a correct reading. 
In this verse Matthew simply omitted Jehoiakim to secure symmetry, 
"and this particular person may have been chosen because in his reign 
occurred the events which led to the captivity." 1 

Whether or not Matthew omitted other names cannot be dog- 
matically stated, but the assumption would be that he probably 
omitted names in his third section as he did in the second. Since there 
are now no records of that period available to determine it for 
certain, however, it must remain an open question. 

Unusual mentionings . Not only does Matthew omit names in his 
genealogy, but he also has some unusual mentionings. These will be 
inspected briefly at this time. 

Matt 1:2 includes Judah's "brethren" along with him. Two 
primary suggestions are made as to the purpose of alluding to the 
other eleven men. Perhaps it was because it was common to speak of 
the twelve patriarchs all together (cf. Acts 7:8). Or perhaps "the 
brethren of Judah are named . . . because all who were descended 
from them were alike Israelites, and had an equal interest in the 
Messiah." 14 

l2 Broadus, Matthew, 4. 

13 Ibid. The complication in this verse concerning the word "brethren" will be dealt 
with later. 

14 E. H. Plumptre, The Gospel According to Matthew (Layman's Handy Commen- 
tary on the Bible, ed. Charles John Ellicott; reprint ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1957) 1. Davis gives other suggestions as to why Judah's brethren are mentioned, and 
in the process makes two pertinent observations: "Judah and his brothers, the twelve 
patriarchs, are singled out as a unit. The nation is born. God's promise to Abraham is 
fulfilled. Jacob becomes Israel (Gen 35:9-15) and through his sons the land of 
Abraham will be possessed. 

overstreet: difficulties OF NT genealogies 311 

Matt 1:3 mentions Zerah in addition to Phares. This is unusual 
in that it is the only time in this list that a man is named that is not in 
the direct genealogy. A similar mentioning of the two brothers occurs 
in 1 Chr 2:4. This "is probably due to the fact that Tamar their 
mother has been mentioned and that she bore them both at one 
birth." 15 

At this point the complication concerning the "brethren" of 
Jeconiah in Matt 1:11 will be considered. Carr, in seeking to prove 
that this verse should have Jehoiakim in it and not Jechoniah, states 
that Jechoniah "had no brethren." 16 However, 1 Chr 3:16 is definite 
that he had at least one brother whose name was Zedekiah. Since it is 
known that Jechoniah had one brother and also known that genea- 
logical lists often omit names, there "might very well have been other 
brothers known from genealogies existing in Matthew's time, but 
whom the compiler of Chronicles had no occasion to include in his 
list." 1 Indeed, the inspired Word of God proves there were other 
brothers because of this very verse under consideration. 

A further unusual characteristic is the mentioning of four women 
in the genealogy, four women, in fact, of questionable background. 
The four women are: Tamar (1:3), Rahab (1:5), Ruth (1:5), and 
Bathsheba (1:6). 

Two of them were Gentiles, Rahab and Ruth, and Ruth, being a 
Moabitess, was expressly cursed (Deut 23:3). Three of the four women 
were wicked sinners — Tamar's fornication, Rahab's harlotry, and 
Bathsheba's sin being well-known. Yet their inclusion in the genealogy 
of the Messiah is a display of the triumph of the grace of God. 18 

"Judah is also set apart from his brothers. In his inheritance he is incomparable in 
honor to them." Charles Thomas Davis, "The Fulfillment of Creation: A Study of 
Matthew's Genealogy," JAAR 41 (1973)524. 

15 Broadus, Matthew, 4. 

16 Arthur Carr, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (The Cambridge Bible for 
Schools and Colleges, ed. J. J. S. Perowne; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 
1896) 30. 

Broadus, Matthew, 4. 

18 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Chicago: 
Moody, 1959) 41. Brown (The Birth of the Messiah, 71-74) advances three proposals to 
explain the inclusion of these ladies: (l)"The first proposal . . . is that the four OT 
women were regarded as sinners; and their inclusion foreshadowed for Matthew's 
readers the role of Jesus as the Savior of sinful men." However, Brown observes that 
this proposal fails with the example of Ruth. (2) "The second proposal . . . has more to 
recommend it, namely, that the women were regarded as foreigners and were included 
by Matthew to show that Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, was related by ancestry to the 
Gentiles." However, Brown observes that this breaks down in that the fifth woman in 
the genealogy, Mary, is not a foreigner; also, first century Jews probably would not 
have regarded the four as foreigners. Still, Brown sees some degree of validity in this 
view. (3) "The third proposal . . . finds two common elements in the four OT women, 


It would seem, on the surface, that if a woman was to be included it 
would have been someone who was highly respected, such as Sarah 
or Rebekah, but such is not the case. "If the Messiah deigns to link 
Himself with such a family — if God is pleased so to order things out 
of that stock, as concerning the flesh, His own Son, the Holy One of 
Israel, was to be born — surely there could be none too bad to be 
received of Him." 19 

Some have said that Matthew went against all usual ways of 
reckoning a genealogy by mentioning women, but there are other 
similar cases in the OT. For example, Keturah is mentioned in 
Gen 25:1, Esau's wives are recorded in Gen 36:10, Timna is found in 
Gen 36:22, Caleb's wives are written in 1 Chr 2:18-19, Caleb's daughter 
is listed in 1 Chr 2:49, and Tamar is given in 1 Chr 2:4. Thus, while it 
was not customary to include women, it was done numerous times. 


The seeming difficulties between Matthew and the OT are not as 
great as some may think. Likewise, the solutions to the problems are 
relatively clear. Matthew in no way contradicts the OT, but rather 
serves as a complement to it. 


Attention will now be directed to the difficulties found in a 
comparison of the genealogy in Matthew with the genealogy as given 
by Luke. 

A word needs to be said about the source from which Luke drew 
his genealogy. "It is not known how Luke secured his genealogy. 
Although we today cannot test its correctness in all details there is no 
reason for calling any of its items into question." The remarks made 
above concerning the source of Matthew's genealogy would also fit 

elements that they share with Mary: (a) there is something extraordinary or irregular in 
their union with their partners — a union which, though it may have been scandalous to 
outsiders, continued the blessed lineage of the Messiah; (b) the women showed 
initiative or played an important role in God's plan and so came to be considered the 
instrument of God's providence or of His Holy Spirit." This is Brown's preferred view. 

William Kelly, Lectures on the Gospel of Matthew (New York: Loizeaux 
Brothers, n.d.) 16. 

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel (Columbus: Wartburg, 
1946) 221. Bruns postulates that Luke borrowed from Jewish folklore and arranged his 
genealogy of 77 names into eleven sets of seven names each in order to present an 
ingenious rehearsal of salvation-history. Bruns' theory is interesting, but rests upon an 
acceptance of numerical significances, apocryphal stories, and imagination. Bruns 
states that Luke does not give a strict genealogy but was intended to teach the way of 
life. His position is unacceptable to anyone holding a high view of inspiration (Bruns, 
"Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus," 982). 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 313 

here. Luke probably compiled this genealogy himself from public 
records and from the OT. 

Purposes of the genealogies 

Each of the genealogies was written by a different man to 
different people and as a result each had a different primary purpose. 
The book of Matthew was written for the Jewish people and it 
demonstrates to them that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised 
Messiah. To the Jewish mind one question would be of supreme 
importance, and this would be, "Is he of the house of David?" The 
genealogy presented by Matthew answers at the beginning in the 
affirmative. Luke, on the other hand, is not writing to Jews but to 
Gentiles, and specifically to the Greeks. Thus, Luke is concerned with 
demonstrating that Jesus is one with humanity, that he stands as the 
perfect man, which was the ideal among Greek thinking. In addition 
to the primary purposes of the two genealogies, there is also a 
secondary theme, implicit in both, which is salvation for the Gentiles. 
"In Matthew it is seen in the linking of Jesus with Abraham and the 
Abrahamic covenant, which promised blessings to all nations in the 
Seed. In Luke it is seen in the tracing of the genealogy back to 
Adam." 21 

Peculiarities of the genealogies 

Although most of the peculiarities of Matthew have already been 
mentioned, they will be listed here again so that the contrast between 
Matthew and Luke can be more easily observed. 


1. Artificial division into three groups of fourteen. 

2. Insertion of some brothers and women. 

3. Omission of some names. 

4. Protection of the virgin birth. 


1. Inverted order of names. 

2. Ending list with Adam and God. 

3. Omission of the article before Joseph. 

4. Placing at beginning of ministry rather than beginning of Gospel. 

5. Insertion of Rhesa and a second Cainan. 

Each of the peculiarities of Matthew was previously discussed 
except the last. Matt 1:16 says that "Jacob begat Joseph the husband 

21 Ryrie, Biblical Theology, 41. 


of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." In the 
English version the protection given to the virgin birth is not made 
clear. However, in the original there is no doubt since the pronoun in 
"of whom" (eS, fjc;) is feminine and could only refer to Mary. 

Attention will be turned now to the peculiarities found in Luke. 
First, Luke has inverted his listing of the genealogy. Official genea- 
logical registers usually present the descending order since individuals 
are only recorded in them as they are born. "The ascending form of 
genealogy can only be that of a private instrument, drawn up from 
the public document with a view to a particular individual whose 
name serves as the starting point of the whole list." 22 Therefore, Luke 
intends to emphasize the person with whom he begins his list, Jesus. 
A similar list in Ezra 7:1-5, mentioned previously, emphasizes Ezra. 

The second peculiarity in Luke's list is the tracing of the lineage 
all the way back to Adam and God. Why does Luke do this? 

Certainly not in order to show the Divine Sonship of the Messiah, 
which would place Him in this respect on a level with all mankind. 
More probably it is added for the sake of Gentile readers, to remind 
them of the Divine origin of the human race, — an origin which they 
share with the Messiah. It is a correction of the myths respecting the 
origin of man, which were current among the heathen. 23 

The third peculiarity is the omission of the definite article before 
Joseph. This significant item will be dealt with fully in a later section 
of this article. 

The fourth peculiarity is the placing of the genealogy at the 
beginning of the ministry of Christ rather than at the beginning of the 
Gospel. Plummer observes the importance of this placement: 

It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that this is the 
beginning of his gospel, for the first three chapters are only introduc- 
tory. The use of dpxouevoc; {archomenos) here implies that the Evange- 
list is now making a fresh start. Two of the three introductory chapters 
are the history of the Forerunner, which Lk. completes in the third 
chapter before beginning his account of the work of the Messiah. Not 
until Jesus has been anointed by the Spirit does the history of the 
Messiah, i.e. the Anointed One, begin; and His genealogy then be- 
comes of importance. In a similar way the pedigree of Moses is placed, 
not just before or just after his birth (Exod. ii. 1,2)... but just after 
his public appearance . . . (Exod. vi. 14-37). 24 

Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, (2 vols in 1; reprint 
ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.), 1. 197. 

Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel Accord- 
ing to St. Luke (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1953) 105. 

~ 4 Ibid., pp. 101-2. Geldenhuys observes also: "Thus far Luke has dealt mostly with 
people and matters that had a preparatory significance for the appearance of Jesus. 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 315 

"In other words, in connecting the genealogy directly with the minis- 
try, Luke exhibits the fact that his interest in it is historical rather 
than antiquarian or, so to say, genealogical." 25 

The fifth peculiarity in Luke is the insertion of Rhesa (3:27) and 
a second Cainan (3:36). Each of these names will be considered. The 
difficulty with Rhesa is that there is no other mention of him in the 
Bible. Two explanations have been given to explain his mention by 
Luke. One would be that, "Rhesa, who is named as Zerubbabel's son 
(Luke iii. 27), is a title: the text in Luke should run 'which was the 
son of Rhesa Zerubbabel."' 26 Rhesa would be an Aramaic title 
meaning "Prince," and the solution is that some copyist misunderstood 
and made Rhesa to be the son of Zerubbabel. The major problem 
with this solution is that it has no manuscript support for it. It is a 
hypothesis that stands without any objective data supporting it. A 
second explanation for Rhesa would be that he is the same as 
Rephaiah. "The sons of Rephaiah, the sons of Arnon, etc. (1 Chron 
3:21), were, it is supposed, branches of the family of David whose 
descent or connection with Zerubbabel is for us unascertainable. 
Rephaiah is probably the same as Rhesa mentioned in Luke 3:27. " 27 
This explanation has the advantage over the former in that it does 
accept the text as it is. However, even this view admits it is "sup- 
posed," and the connection is "unascertainable." Both of these ex- 
planations rest on the assumption that the Zerubbabel of the OT, the 
Zerubbabel of Matthew, and the Zerubbabel of Luke are all the same 
man. But, if the Zerubbabel in Luke is a different man then it is 
unlikely that his son, Rhesa, would be recorded in any OT genealogy. 
This may be exactly the situation as will be presented in detail in a 
later section of this article. 

A different type of problem is encountered with the second 
Cainan (Luke 3:36). This part of Luke's genealogy is also recorded in 
Gen 10:24, 11:12, and in 1 Chr 1:24. However, the OT genealogies 
omit this Cainan in all three instances. The problem here is that this 
name "though found in this place of the genealogy of the LXX, is not 
found in any Hebrew ms of the O.T., not in the Samaritan, Chaldee, 
and Syriac versions. ... It is omitted in the Codex Bezae (D), and 

Now, however, he is about to relate the public activity of the Lord. All subordinate 
personalities are now to be relegated to the background and henceforth he proceeds to 
place Jesus, the Central Figure in the divine drama, completely in the foreground of his 
narrative, as it should be. For this reason he regards this as the suitable place to record 
the genealogical table" (Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 
[NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968] 150). 

25 L. M. Sweet, "The Genealogy of Jesus Christ," The International Standard Bible 
Encyclopaedia, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1915) 2. 1197. 

26 Carr, Matthew, 30. Scroggie {Guide to the Gospels, 508) also adopts this view. 

11 Unger's Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Rephaiah." 


there is some evidence it was unknown to Irenaeus." 28 To this it may 
be added that "it is wanting in the Vatican copy of the Septuagint. . . ," 29 
Several possible solutions to this difficulty are given: (1) The first 
simply states that, "There can be little doubt that the name has 
somehow crept in by mistake; but whether into the Septuagint first, 
and from that into the copies of Luke, or vice versa, cannot be 
certainly determined." 30 The problem with this solution is that it fails 
to take into consideration the vast ms support for the reading as given 
in Luke. (2) The next solution is "that Cainan was a surname of Sala, 
and that the names should be read together thus, the son of Heber, 
the son of Salacainan, the son of Arphaxad, etc." 31 This is an 
ingenious solution, but it again has no explanation for the ms support 
that gives the reading as it is in Luke. (3) Another possible solution is 
that, since it is in the LXX, "this may imply an original Hebrew text 
older than that which we now possess. . . ," 32 This view is better than 
the preceding in that it readily accepts as genuine the text of Luke. It 
may very well be the correct solution to the problem. However, at 
this time it rests on an unprovable hypothesis. On the other hand, 
much work still needs to be done in the area of textual criticism in the 
OT. (4) An additional solution would be to rely on Codex Bezae (D), 
which omits the name, as passing on the true reading of the text. To 
do this, however, the principles of textual criticism must be set aside. 
(5) The last possible solution to this problem would be to recognize 
that the name is omitted in the Hebrew OT and legitimately so, and 
at the same time recognize it as a valid part of Luke's Gospel. The 
explanation is that Luke had access to another list (be it the LXX or 
not), and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit included it, and 
rightly so, in his Gospel. This would recognize the fact shown before 
that not all the OT genealogies are complete in giving every name. 
Since, however, the name does not "appear to have been in the copies 
of the Septuagint used by Theophilus of Antioch in the second 
century, by Africanus in the third, or by Eusebius in the fourth [and 
since] Jerome, in his annotations on the chapter takes no notice of 
it," 33 it is possible that it may have been added to the LXX. It is, on 
the other hand, a perfectly accurate name in the genealogy of Luke. 

28 Frederick William Farrar, The Gospel According to St. Luke (The Cambridge 
Bible for Schools and Colleges; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1895) 374. 

P. Fairbairn, "Genealogies," Fairbaim's Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 
(reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957) 2. 351. 

30 Ibid. 

3l Clarke, St. Luke, 5. 384. 

32 E. H. Plumptre, The Gospel According to Luke (Layman's Handy Commentary 
on the Bible; reprint ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957) 53. 

33 Fairbairn, "Genealogies," 2. 351. 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 317 

Luke does not contradict the OT in the least, but rather supplements 
it. This writer believes that either views (3) or (5) will solve the 
difficulty in its entirety, but the fifth view seems to be the most 

Reconciling the genealogies 

Some say that reconciling the two genealogies is impossible. 
Others say that to harmonize the two genealogies one must make 
assumptions which cannot be proven. Still others say that reconcilia- 
tion is possible. "In light of these views one is prepared to face 
difficulties and to come, perhaps, to no definite conclusion." 34 Farrar 
comments on whether or not one Evangelist had seen the other's 
work: "The difference between the two genealogies thus given without 
a word of explanation constitutes a strong probability that neither 
Evangelist had seen the work of the other." 35 

There are two main approaches in attempting to reconcile the 
genealogies. One is to say that both are the genealogies of Joseph and 
then to attack the problems. The other is to say that while Matthew 
gives Joseph's, Luke gives Mary's genealogy and then to attack the 
problems. No matter which approach is used, problems exist. The 
view that both genealogies are Joseph's will be presented first. 

Both genealogies are Josephs. The view that both genealogies 
are Joseph's has given rise to two different approaches. One holds 
that Matthew gives the real (physical) descent and Luke gives the 
legal descent of Joseph, the other that Matthew gives the legal 
descent and Luke gives the real parentage. The first perspective 
is summarized by Robertson: 

By this theory, Heli and Jacob being stepbrothers, Jacob married 
Heli's widow and was the real father of Joseph. Thus both the 
genealogies would be the descent of Joseph, one the real, the other the 
legal. ... It is argued that Jechoniah's children were born in captivity 
and so, being slaves, he lost both his royal dignity and his legal status. 
Stress is laid upon the word "begat" to show that Matthew's descent 
must be the natural pedigree of Joseph, and upon the use of the 
expression "son (as was supposed) of Joseph." Hence both Joseph's 
real and legal standings are shown, for by Luke's account he had an 

34 Scroggie, Guide to the Gospels, 505. Barnard is explicit in his opinion as to 
whether the two genealogies can be harmonized: "we have two independent attempts to 
establish the Davidic descent of Joseph, and . . . they can be harmonized only by 
suppositions which are incapable of proof and hardly probable." P. Mordaunt Barnard, 
"Genealogies of Jesus Christ," Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels (reprint ed.; Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1973) 1.639. 

35 Farrar, Luke, 374. 


undisputed legal title to descent from David. This is certainly possible, 
although it rests on the hypothesis of the Levirate marriage. 

On the other hand, the first approach here 

. . . derives very great authority from the fact that it is preserved 
for us by Eusebius (H. E. I. 7) from a letter of Julius Africanus, a 
Christian writer who lived in Palestine in the third century, and who 
professed to derive it from private memoranda preserved by 'the 
Diosposyni' or kindred of the Lord. 

Some difficulties about the evidence from Africanus are, however, a 
strange omission of Levi and Matthat, and also that he makes 
"Matthew's genealogy . . . partly legal (as in calling Shealtiel the son 
of Jechoniah) and partly natural (in calling Joseph the son of 
Jacob)." 38 

The second approach is summarized by Machen: 

The most probable answer is that Matthew gives the legal descen- 
dants of David — the men who would have been legally the heir to the 
Davidic throne if that throne had been continued — while Luke gives 
the descendants of David in that particular line to which, Joseph, the 
husband of Mary, belonged. There is nothing at all inherently im- 
probable in such a solution. When a kingly line becomes extinct, the 
living member of a collateral line inherits the throne. So it may well 
have been in the present case. 39 

Both of these subdivisions hold that Solomon's line failed in 
Jechoniah; therefore, Shealtiel of Matthew's line took his place. Both 
of these possibilities, representing the general view that both geneal- 
ogies are Joseph's, rest on unprovable assumptions. 4 

Luke gives Mary's genealogy. The second approach to reconcil- 
ing the genealogies is to say that while Matthew presents Joseph's, 
Luke presents Mary's. In criticism of this solution, Plummer said that 

A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ 
(New York: Harper & Row, 1950) 260. 
"Farrar, Luke, 372. 
38 Ibid., 373. 
J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ (New York: Harper and 
Brothers, 1930) 204. 

A further refinement in the view that both genealogies are Joseph's is that some 
adherents would equate the Matthat of Luke 3:24 with the Matthan of Matt 1:15, while 
others hold to a distinction. The overall view that both genealogies are Joseph's is also 
advocated by: Fairbairn, "Genealogies," 2. 348-51; Plummer, St. Luke, 101-5; Carr, 
Matthew, 29-31; Sweet, "The Genealogy of Jesus Christ," 2. 1 196-99; and Lord Arthur 
Hervey, "Genealogy of Jesus Christ," A Dictionary of the Bible (Hartford: S. S. 
Scranton, 1867) 283-85. 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 319 

it was "not advocated by anyone until Annius of Viterbo propounded 
it, c. a.d. 1490. " 41 In light of this, some may conclude that this could 
not be the best solution or else accurate understanding of this matter 
was unknown to the church for over 1400 years. However, if sub- 
stantial evidence can be given in support of this view, no over- 
whelming reason exists why it cannot be correct. The church could 
have lacked clear understanding on this problem. Then, too, the 
possibility exists that the view could have been held early in church 
history and the record of it simply not have come down to us. The 
point in question is not what the church has taught, but what the 
Bible teaches. 

In considering this view, a comparison of Matthew's and Luke's 
emphasis is in order. Matthew emphasizes Joseph in the first two 
chapters and Mary is only mentioned as his wife (see 1:16, 17, 
20; 2:13, 19, 20). On the other hand, the emphasis in the opening 
chapters of Luke is on Mary (see 1:26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 
35; 2:19, 51). This seems to give some value to saying that Joseph's 
genealogy is in Matthew and Mary's is in Luke. 
Mary's is in Luke. 

Godet argues forcefully from the wording of Luke 3:23 that Luke 
does not give Joseph's genealogy: 

With the participle cov, being, there begins then a transition which 
we owe to the pen of Luke. How far does it extend, and where does the 
genealogical register properly begin? This is a nice and imortant 
question. We have only a hint for its solution. This is the absence of 
the article xou, the, before the name of Joseph. This word is found 
before all the names belonging to the genealogical series. In the 
genealogy of Matthew, the article xov is put in the same way before 
each proper name, which clearly proves that it was the ordinary form 
in vogue in this kind of document. . . . This want of the article puts the 
name Joseph outside the genealogical series properly so called, and 
assigns to it a peculiar position. We must conclude from it — 1st. That 
this name belongs rather to the sentence introduced by Luke; 2d. That 
the genealogical document which he consulted began with the name of 

4l Plummer, St. Luke, 103. Geldenhuys replies to this point: "It is true that we have 
no example in the old church fathers and of the other oldest Christian writers before 
the fifth century . . ., where it is stated that Luke gives the genealogical table of Mary. 
This, however, proves nothing, for the earliest data in connection with the whole 
problem we only find in Julius Africanus (about a.d. 200). What most likely happened 
was that in the earliest times the true interpretation of Luke's genealogical table was 
generally known, so that no problem arose at first. Only when towards the end of the 
second or the beginning of the third century there was no longer any first-hand 
connection with the apostles and their contemporaries and first successors did the 
genealogical data begin to give trouble" (Gospel of Luke, 154 n. 5). 


Heli; 3d. And consequently, that this piece was not originally the 
genealogy of Jesus or Joseph, but of Heli. 42 

Plummer objects to this interpretation, arguing that it causes the 
word "son" to be used in two distinct ways in the same sentence: 

It is altogether unnatural to place the comma after Tu)ar|(p and 
not before it: "Being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) of Heli;" i.e. 
being supposed to be the son of Joseph, but really the grandson of 
Heli. It is not credible that moc; can mean both son and grandson in 
the same sentence. 43 

However, the supposed problem which Plummer sees is not as 
significant as it may first appear. The idea of links being passed over 
in genealogies was not unusual. Lenski states the explanation 

The objection that, if Luke is giving us the genealogy of Jesus 
through Mary, Heli would be the grandfather of Jesus and could not 
be introduced by too 'HXi overlooks the fact that sometimes even 
several links are skipped in the Biblical genealogies; this is the case in 
Matthew's list and in Ezra 7:3 where six links are omitted as I Chron. 
6:7-11 shows. The claim that Mary should have been mentioned as 
being the daughter of Heli is more than met by Luke's full narrative of 
how she became the mother of Jesus; every reader knew that d5v uloc; 
. . . tou 'HXi, "being a son ... of Heli," could mean only one thing: 
Heli's son through Mary (and certainly not through a supposed father). 
The parenthesis in our versions should be extended to include the name 
Joseph: "(as was supposed of Joseph)." To shorten it as is done in our 
versions makes the entire list up to "of God" (v. 38) dependent on "as 

Godet, Gospel of Luke, 1. 198-99. Barndollar recognizes this same significance: 
"This omission of the definite article strongly suggests that the name Joseph also 
belongs in the parenthesis. Therefore, a possible literal translation is, 'being the son (as 
was supposed of Joseph) of Heli, of Matthat,' etc. Thus this translation would suggest 
that Jesus was not the son of Heli through Joseph. Therefore if He were not, then He 
must have been the son of Heli through Mary. There is no other alternative. Thus the 
genealogy would have to be Mary's. ... If Joseph's name is placed within the 
parenthesis, then it would make Jesus the 'grandson' of Heli. However there is no 
conflict with the term 'son,' since it often means direct descent and not immediate 
descent" (Jesus' Title, 39). See also Geldenhuys, Gospel of Luke, 153 n. 4. 

Plummer, St. Luke, 103. A further objection, and reply, is given by Leon Morris: 
"Against this approach it is urged that this is not what Luke says and that in any case 
genealogies were not traced through the female line. Luke, however, is speaking of a 
virgin birth, and we have no information as to how a genealogy would be reckoned 
when there was no human father. The case is unique" (The Gospel According to St. 
Luke, [The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1976] 100). 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 321 

was supposed," for there is no way to restrict this clause except by 
including "of Joseph" in it as a part of the parenthesis. 44 

Yes, Luke does mention Joseph, "but the very manner in which this is 
done points out his true relation to Jesus and Heli, the living means 
of connection between these latter being Mary." 45 

This study of the text in detail leads us in this way to admit — 
1. That the genealogical register of Luke is that of Heli, the grandfather 
of Jesus; 2. That, this affiliation of Jesus by Heli being expressly 
opposed to His affiliation by Joseph, the document which he has 
preserved for us can be nothing else in his view than the genealogy of 
Jesus through Mary. But why does not Luke name Mary, and why 
pass immediately from Jesus to His grandfather? Ancient sentiment did 
not comport with the mention of the mother as the genealogical link. 
Among the Greeks a man was the son of his father, not of his mother; 
and among the Jews the adage was: "Genus matris non vocatur genus" 
(Baba bathra, 110a). In lieu of this, it is not uncommon to find in the 
O.T. the grandson called the son of his grandfather. 46 

The strength of Godet's argumentation is even recognized by 
those who hold to the position that both genealogies are Joseph's. 
For example, Sweet says: 

The authorities have been divided as to whether Lk's genealogy is 
Joseph's, as appears, or Mary's. Godet makes a strong showing for the 
latter, and, after all has been said per contra, some of his representa- 
tions remain unshaken. . . , 47 

Lenski, St. Luke's Gospel, 220. Lenski also says: "How Luke could think of 
appending a genealogy of Joseph after saying that Jesus was only supposed to be a son 
of Joseph, i.e., a physical son, Luke himself having shown at length that this 
supposition was wrong and that Jesus was a physical son only by Mary, has yet to be 
made clear by those who find the genealogy of Joseph here" (Ibid., 218-19). 

John Peter Lange, The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, (reprint ed.; Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1958) 1. 300. 

46 Godet, Gospel of Luke, 1. 201. Godet also addresses the problem as to what 
would have been the result had Luke given Joseph's genealogy: "It is not only with 
Matthew that Luke would be in contradiction, but with himself, he admits the 
miraculous birth (chap, i and ii). It is conceivable that, from the theocratic point of 
view which Matthew takes, a certain interest might, even on this supposition, be 
assigned to the genealogy of Joseph as the adoptive, legal father of the Messiah. But 
that Luke, to whom this official point of view was altogether foreign, should have 
handed down with so much care this series of seventy-three names, after having severed 
the chain at the first link, as he does by the remark, as it was thought; that, further, he 
should give himself the trouble, after this, to develope [sic] the entire series, and finish 
at last with God Himself; — this is a moral impossibility" (Ibid., 202-3). 

47 Sweet, "The Genealogy of Jesus Christ," 2. 1 198. 


Two additional arguments have been mentioned in support of 
the view that Luke's genealogy belongs to Mary, but the first is in 
question. (1) "In the Jewish Talmud, written just a few years after the 
death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are told that Jesus was the 
illegitimate son of Mary of Bethlehem, the daughter of Heli." 48 (2) "If 
both genealogies are entirely Joseph's there would be no proof in 
them that Mary was of Davidic descent, and such proof was necessary 
seeing that Joseph was not Jesus' natural father. . . ," 49 The cumula- 
tive weight of the evidence points to the view that Luke presents 
Mary's genealogy as the better position. 

Identifying men in the genealogies 

At this time attention will be turned to another difficulty which 
is noticed in comparing Matthew and Luke. In both Matt 1:12 and 
Luke 3:27 Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are listed. Two specific questions 
arise here. Are these the same or different individuals? If the same, 
then how did the two lines meet at this point? Whether or not the 
men are identical in Matthew and Luke, Shealtiel and Zerubbabel of 
Matthew are the same ones that are found in the OT (with one 
possible exception). This presents a further problem in that Matt 
1:12; Ezra 3:2; 5:2; Neh 12:1; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23 all agree that 
Zerubbabel is the son of Shealtiel, but 1 Chr 3:9 says he is the son of 
Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiel. This latter problem will be dealt 
with first. Four possible answers have been given. 

The first suggestion is that the problem has no adequate solution 
with present information. Broadus states this view succinctly: "It is 
not surprising that there should be some slight differences in these 
lists of names which, with our imperfect information, we are unable 
to explain." 50 

The second suggestion hinges around a variant textual reading. 
Machen is representative of this view: 

In the second place; one may follow certain manuscripts of the 
Septuagint at I Chron. iii. 18f., instead of following the Hebrew text. 

Harry A. Ironside, Addresses on the Gospel of Luke, (New York: Loizeaux 
Brothers, 1946) 1. 104. Geldenhuys questions this argument: "The Miriam, daughter of 
Eli, who is referred to in the Talmud (Chagigah lid), has in all probability nothing to 
do with Mary the mother of Jesus, as is made plain in Strack-Billerbeck (in loc.)" 
(Gospel of Luke, 154 n. 5). 

Scroggie, Guide to the Gospels, 509. For further study supporting the view that 
Luke gives Mary's genealogy, see: Plumptre, Matthew, 1-6; Plumptre, Luke, 51-54; 
Broadus, Matthew, 1-7; Robertson, Harmony, 259-62; and Geldenhuys, Gospel of 
Luke, 150-55. 

50 Broadus, Matthew, 5. 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 323 

In that case Pedaiah drops out as the father of Zerubbabel, and 
Zerubbabel may be regarded as the actual son of Shealtiel. 51 

The third suggestion appeals to the practice of levirate marriage 
in the OT. Keil postulates: 

. . . Shealtiel died without any male descendants, leaving his wife a 
widow. . . . After Shealtiel's death his second brother Pedaiah fulfilled 
this Levirate duty, and begat, in his marriage with his sister-in-law, 
Zerubbabel, who was now regarded, in all that related to laws of 
heritage, as Shealtiel's son. . . . 52 

The last suggestion is to suppose that there is a different 
Zerubbabel recorded in 1 Chr 3:19 than from the other references 
listed in the OT. 53 At first glance this would seem to be doubtful. 
However, as the children of Zerubbabel of 1 Chr 3:19 are listed it is 
observed that Abiud (Matt 1:13) is not listed. In 1 Chr 3:19-20 seven 
sons and one daughter are listed, but none of them have a name 
anything similar to Abiud which Matthew records in 1:13. This would 
indicate that a different person is involved here. Therefore, this last 
suggestion seems to be the most satisfactory. 

Upon coming to the question of whether or not the Shealtiel and 
Zerubbabel of Matthew are the same as those in Luke, two different 
opinions are faced. Farrar states: "The old suggestion that the 
Zerubbabel and Shealtiel of St. Luke are different persons from those 
of St. Matthew may be set aside at once." 54 On the other hand, 
Broadus writes: "The names Shealtiel and Zerubbabel in the geneal- 
ogies need not be supposed to represent the same person." 55 Those 
who hold to the position that the men are identical in the two 
genealogies have three different ways of explaining it. Some say that 
Shealtiel was an adopted son of Jechoniah. Some say that Shealtiel 
was a son-in-law, and others say he was a son by Levirate law. These 
three views will now be examined. 

Since Jer 22:30 says, "Write ye this man (Jechoniah or Coniah) 
childless," some say he actually had no sons and therefore adopted 
Shealtiel, who was really the son of Neri (Luke 3:27). 56 This possi- 
bility, however, does not adequately meet the problem. The following 

51 Machen, Virgin Birth, 206. 

52 C. F. Keil, The Books of the Chronicles, (Biblical Commentary on the Old 
Testament; reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968) 81-82. 

53 Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, vol. 1: The Four Gospels, rev. Everett F. 
Harrison (Chicago: Moody, 1968) 4. 

54 Farrar, Luke, 373. 

55 Broadus, Matthew, 5. 

56 Scroggie, for example, writes: "In Jer. xxii. 24-30, it is predicted that Coniah 
(Jehoiachim) would be childless, but it is possible and probable that he adopted the 
seven sons of Neri, the twentieth from David in the line of Nathan. This seems to be 


eight objections to this view have been condensed from Barndollar. 57 
(1) To say that Jechoniah had no sons contradicts 1 Chr 3:17 where 
two sons are listed: Assir and Shealtiel. (2) Jechoniah begat Shealtiel 
after the carrying away to Babylon (Matt 1:12). At the time of the 
carrying away Jechoniah was only 18 years old (2 Kgs 24:8). His 
wives were taken with him (2 Kgs 24:15), and when released from 
prison he was only 55, which is still young enough to have children. 
(3) The rest of Jer 22:30 explains the first part. Jeremiah is saying 
that Jechoniah's heirs will not prosper if they ever do occupy the 
throne. He is not saying Jechoniah will not have children. (4) "Begat" 
as used by Matthew is a word which generally denotes physical 
descent. (5) There is no Scriptural proof that Jechoniah ever adopted 
any sons. In addition, what point would there be for the Babylonian 
king to permit Jechoniah (who was in prison) to go through the legal 
procedure of adoption? (6) From Abraham to David Matthew agrees 
with Luke and with the OT in listing blood descendants. Thus, what 
reason is there for considering him to be inaccurate in listing the 
successors to Solomon? The only fair conclusion is that Matthew 
accurately recorded Shealtiel and Zerubbabel as blood descendants of 
both Jechoniah and Solomon. (7) Luke gives a completely different 
list of names from David to Shealtiel, and from Zerubbabel to Jesus, 
and the obvious, clearest, and most evident interpretation, with 
consistency, would be to regard Shealtiel and Zerubbabel as different 
also. No other procedure would be justifiable without Scriptural 
warrant. (8) Therefore, the only conclusion that can be given con- 
cerning the adoption theory is that it falls short of explaining the 
identical names. 

The second view is to make Shealtiel a son-in-law. 58 Again this 
could be in the realm of the possible, but it has no better support for 
it than the adoption theory. Once again, Barndollar points out the 
deficiency in this view: 

intimated in Zech. xii.12, where we read of 'the family of Nathan apart,' as well as 'the 
family of David apart.' If this were so, Salathiel would be the posterity of Jechonias by 
an adoption in the line of Nathan" (/Guide to the Gospels, 508-9). 
"Barndollar, Jesus' Title, 29-33. 
Godet, for example, writes: "If the identity of these persons [Shealtiel and 
Zerubbabel] in the two genealogies [Matthew and Luke] is admitted, the explanation 
must be found in 2 Kings xxiv. 12, which proves that King Jechonias had no son at the 
time when he was carried into captivity. It is scarcely probable that he had one while in 
prison, where he remained shut up for thirty-eight years. He or they whom the passage 
1 Chron. hi. 17 assigns to him (which, besides, may be translated in three different 
ways) must be regarded as adopted sons or as sons-in-law; they would be spoken of as 
sons, because they would be unwilling to allow the reigning branch of the royal family 
to become extinct. Salathiel, the first of them, would thus have some other father than 
Jechonias; and this father would be Neri, of the Nathan branch, indicated by Luke" 
(Gospel of Luke, 1. 205-6). 

overstreet: difficulties of nt genealogies 325 

Scripture does not support the idea that Coniah had no sons, but 
instead names his sons and Matthew declares that Jechonias begat (by 
physical generation) a son, Salathiel. Furthermore, Jeremiah's proph- 
ecy definitely predicts a posterity which would rule out the necessity of 
suggesting a son-in-law theory. Since the proponents of this view offer 
no tangible proof in support of their view — it is merely a possibility — it 
is not commensurate with sound Bible interpretation to espouse the 
theory, when the weight of Scriptural evidence is against it. Therefore, 
this theory is no more acceptable than the first. 59 

The third view is to make Shealtiel a son by levirate law. 60 Once 
more this view is in the realm of possibility, but it has no support for 
it, either. Barndollar shows the weakness of this view also: 

A third time we must note that no definite Scripture is given in 
support of the proposal — it is merely a theory at best, and that 
unproved! It is only conjecture. The Scriptures testify, as we have 
already seen, that Coniah had at least one son, Salathiel. Thus there 
was no need for the Levirate law to operate, for even if Coniah begat 
no children, before or during his imprisonment, still it was in the realm 
of possibility after his release from prison. This possibility manifestly 
agrees with Matthew's statement that "Jechonias begat Salathiel" 
(Mt. 1:12) after the Babylonian captivity began. 61 

The position then, that the Shealtiel and Zerubbabel of Matthew 
are the same men mentioned by Luke fails in all three of its possible 
explanations. This constitutes a strong argument that the two men of 
Matthew are indeed distinct from the two men of Luke. However, it 
may be argued that it seems unusual, at the least, for blood relatives 
in the same generation to have the same names. This is not a 
significant objection. This present writer has a first cousin, about the 
same age, with the same first and last name as his own. Therefore, the 
identical names need not be an obstacle to recognizing what the 
Scriptures indicate — that the Shealtiel and Zerubbabel of Matthew 
are not the same as those of Luke. 62 

59 Barndollar, Jesus' Title, 34-35. 

60 Godet writes concerning this possibility: "An alternative hypothesis has been 
proposed, founded on the Levirate law. Neri, as a relative of Jechonias, might have 
married one of the wives of the imprisoned king in order to perpetuate the royal 
family; and the son of this union, Salathiel, would have ben legally a son of Jechonias, 
but really a son of Neri" {Gospel of Luke, 1. 206). 

61 Barndollar, Jesus' Title, 35. 

"Barndollar gives a precise summary of the feasibility of this suggestion: ". . . we 
must consider Salathiel and Zerubabel [sic] in one genealogy as different than the men 
by the same names in the other genealogy. It is not at all impossible nor unusual for 
blood relatives in the same generation to have the same names — it has been true in the 
past and it is true in our own day. In the days of David we read of two descendents 
from Levi who bore the same name, Elkana. The one was a Korhite known as one of 



The NT genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke may present 
some difficulties to the student of God's Word, but none of them is 
insuperable. This article first centered attention on the difficulties that 
exist between Matthew and the OT, and found that harmonization is 
possible. Attention then focused on the difficulties between Matthew 
and Luke, which are greater. The purposes and peculiarities of the 
two genealogies were enumerated, and suggestions were presented as 
to how each difficulty may be resolved. 3 

This study demonstrated that the Scriptures are accurate in even 
the smallest details. Both Matthew and Luke write with remarkable 
precision, each accomplishing his goal of demonstrating God's design 
in the birth of his only-begotten Son. 

David's 'mighty men, helpers of the war' (I Chr. 12:1, 6), while the other was a Levite 
assigned as a door-keeper for the Ark (I Chr. 15:22, 23). Therefore, the identical names 
in Matthew's and Luke's genealogies present no great problem, for there is no good 
reason why they are not different individuals even though having the same name" 
(Ibid., 36). 

63 A further difficulty connected with these genealogies relates to Jesus' legal right 
to the throne of David. This subject, however, is not involved with difficulties in the 
genealogies themselves, but rather in their application to Christ. As a result, it is 
outside the scope of this study. For a complete discussion of this matter the reader 
should consult Barndollar, Jesus' Title, since the focus of the book centers on how 
Christ derives his legal right to David's throne. 

napcareaovTag IN HEBREWS 6:6 

John A. Sproule 

The author defends the view that the participle napamadvxac, in 
Heb 6:6 must be understood as an adjectival-substantival participle 
rather than an adverbial participle. As such, the participle cannot be 
taken as a conditional participle and translated as the protasis of a 
conditional statement. Since it is not the purpose of the author to 
exegete the entire per ic ope (Heb 6:4-6), appeal is made primarily to 
the grammatical structure involved and to a survey made of several 
prominent NT and Greek scholars in the United States, England, and 


How the participle TrapaTteaovxac; is understood in Heb 6:6 will 
significantly determine how the exegete ultimately will interpret 
the Heb 6:4-6 pericope. Other factors (immediate context, the overall 
context of the epistle, theological harmonization with the other 
warning passages and with established theology in general) must 
obviously be given full weight also if the passage is to be interpreted 

However, to attempt a full-blown exegesis of this pericope is not 
the purpose of this brief article. 1 It is the intention of this writer to 
defend the view that 7rapa7t£0"6vTa<; should not be taken as an 
adverbial (or, circumstantial) participle and, therefore, it cannot be 
taken as a conditional participle and translated into English as the 
protasis ("if" clause) of a conditional sentence. 2 Evidence will be 
presented to show that 7r.apa7rea6vTac; is the fifth participle in a series 

The author is currently engaged in the preparation of a manuscript for publica- 
tion entitled The Doctrine of Perseverance in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In this work 
each of the warning passages in the epistle will be dealt with exhaustively and 
exegetically to demonstrate that the type of individual being described in these warning 
passages is an unbeliever (the "Apostate View"). 

2 The participle is taken as conditional by the NIV, RSV, AV, The Amplified New 
Testament, and others. The translation defended by this writer appears in the ASV of 
1901, Williams New Testament, Moffatfs translation, the NASB, the Vulgate, the 


of adjectival (substantival) 3 participles, beginning in Heb 6:4, all 
governed by the masculine, accusative, plural article tovc,. Further, a 
diagrammatical analysis will be presented in defense of the view taken 
by this writer. Along with the evidence mentioned above, the author 
will present the results of a survey made in 1979 of several prominent 
NT and Greek scholars relative to the problem being discussed. 
It is fully understood by this writer that many able and 
experienced Greek exegetes (including some of my own colleagues) 
will not agree with the position taken in this article. It is to be 
remembered that to differ with another scholar is not to impugn his 
ability or experience or wise counsel. Thus, it is hoped that this article 
will be received with the same irenic spirit it is presented. 


The text of Heb 6:4-6 (UBS, 3rd ed.) appears below. Each 
participle in the series under consideration has been italicized. 

ASuvaxov yap xouc; anaS, (pcoTiadevzag, ysvoapevovQ xe xfj<;5cop£dc; 
xfjt; sTtoopaviou Kai iiexoxouc; yevrfdevraQ Ttvsufiaxot; dyiou Kai KaX.6v 
yevaafievovQ GsoO pfj|ia Suvd^etc; xs \ie'k'kovxoc l aiwvcx;, Kai napa- 
neadviag, rrdXtv dvaicaivi^siv sic, iiexdvotav, dvaaxaupouvxac; eauxoii; 
xov uiov xou GeoC Kai rcapaSEiyuaxi^ovxag. 

A diagram of this section appears as Fig. 1. This diagrammatical 
analysis should be consulted as the following discussion is presented. 

The five participles in the series are accusative, plural, masculine 
participles and they all function as direct objects of the infinitive 
dvctKaivi^siv (v 6). All five participles are introduced by the single 
article touc; and they are connected to each other by a simple 
connective series, te . . . Kai . . . Kai . . . Kai. The series is broken after 
7rapa7ieo6vTag. Thus the two remaining participles in the pericope 
(dvaaxaupoOvxaf; and napaSeiyuaTi^oviac;) are not part of the series 
and they are rightly construed as adverbial participles expressing 

It is a well-known fact of NT Greek grammar that, while 
adjectival participles usually (not always) take a definite article, 
adverbial participles never are governed by a definite article. Further, 

Armenian version, the Georgian versian, C. Spicq's L'Epitre aux Hebreux (Paris: 
Gabalda, 1953), and others. 

For convenience, the terms "substantival" and "attributive" are subsumed under 
the term "adjectival." Similarly, the term "adverbial" will embrace what some other 
grammarians call "circumstantial." It is understood that the five participles under 
discussion in Heb 6:4-6 are substantival participles. 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 1105ff. 

napa7i£a6vxaq IN HEBREWS 6:6 




Series of five adjectival 
(substantival) participles 
functioning as direct ob- 
jects of dvaicaivi^eiv 

dvaKaivi^eiv j| /\ 

I nakw 

stq | ueTavoiav 



Causal adverbial participles 



ctvaaTaupouvTac, I xov mov 



toO 9eo0 


Fig. 1. Diagrammatical analysis of Heb 6:4-6. 


a single article governing several adjectival participles in a series is 
also a legitimate Greek construction (cf. Gal 2:20, Rev 1:5). 5 Since 
Ttaparceaovxac; is governed by touc; and is part of the series of 
connected substantival participles, it cannot be adverbial so as to 
function conditionally. Thus, in the opinion of this writer, touc; . . . 
Kai rcaparceaovTac; is best translated as a relative clause, ". . . and 
who have fallen away." 6 


Several years ago (early 1979), in researching this project, this 
writer corresponded with several outstanding NT Greek scholars by 
means of a questionnaire. Only for the sake of convenience, general 
classification terminology from Dana and Mantey's Manual Grammar 
was employed in the questionnaire. Three questions were asked of 
each correspondent: (1) Would you classify this participle [irapa- 
Ttsaovxac;] as adjectival or adverbial? (2) For what reason do you 
make the classification that you indicate? (3) Is there any instance, to 
your knowledge, of an adjectival participle [one governed by a 
definite article] being translated as a conditional participle? 

Included in the scholars who were sampled were Julius R. 
Mantey, Nigel Turner, Bruce Metzger, Stanley Toussaint, Randy 
Yeager, Matthew Black, Christian Hannick ( Westfalische Wilhelms- 
Universitat, Institut fur Neutestamentliche Textforschung, who re- 
sponded in place of Kurt Aland), Gleason Archer, J. Barton Payne, 
C. E. B. Cranfield, Allen Wikgren, F. F. Bruce, S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., 
Zane C. Hodges, and John Grassmick. Professor Grassmick (Dallas 
Theological Seminary), although busily engaged in his Ph.D. work at 
Glasgow at the time, was so kind as to offer his suggested diagram of 
the passage. 8 

All but three (Mantey, Turner, Cranfield) of the correspondents 
agreed that 7rapa7ieoovTa(; was adjectival and not adverbial. Most 
were emphatic in their response, although some hesitated to use Dana 
and Mantey's terminology (which is certainly not consensus gentium). 
For example, Professor Emeritus Matthew Black (Principal of St. 

5 Ibid., 777-79. 

The NEB seems to come closest to the best translation: ". . . and after all this have 
fallen away, it is impossible to bring them again to repentance." 

7 H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New 
Testament (Toronto: Macmillan, 1927) 224-29. 

My own diagram corresponds essentially to that of Professor Grassmick's. 
Although details of diagramming are quite subjective, I have tried to follow the 
methodology presented in John D. Grassmick's Principles and Practice of Greek 
Exegesis (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1974). 

napaneaovTaq IN HEBREWS 6:6 331 

Mary's College, St. Andrews, Fife) opened his response with, "I 
would class 7tapa7T£a6vT(xc; without hesitation as ''adjectival.''" Most 
of the reasons given for preferring the classification "adjectival" were 
essentially those suggested in the questionnaire. F. F. Bruce simply 
reasoned, "Because it appears to be coordinate with the succession of 
aorist participles preceding it in verses 4 and 5, all of which, I think, 
are adjectival." S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. gave as his reason: "The 
participle is the last in a series governed by the touc; before anat,. 
Adverbial participles do not take the article." Zane Hodges responded: 
"It [TiapaTtgaovTac;] is part of a series of participles begun by tou<; . . . 
(pcoTioGevTOic; and is governed by the article xouq." Allen Wikgren 
stated that he had suggested "several years ago" in going over 
Hebrews for the RSV committee that the translation be changed from 
a conditional statement to that which was parallel with the foregoing 

The three scholars who preferred to see napaneaovxac, as adver- 
bial (and conditional) offered varied reasons for their preference. 
Dr. Mantey simply referred to p. 227 and par. 4 of his Manual 
Grammar. However, this reference simply describes the conditional 
use of adverbial participles (which no one debates), but it says 
nothing about Heb 6:6 or similar difficult constructions. Nigel Turner's 
comment was simply, "The classification is irrelevant." He goes on to 
say, "It would presumably refer to certain apostates, but the author 
clearly has any such believers in mind as well [italics mine], and 
therefore his statement is of general application, and 'if certainly 
adequately expresses his meaning." This perhaps begs the question of 
how Dr. Turner has such a clear understanding of what the author of 
Hebrews has in mind when the problem of interpreting this epistle 
has challenged so many capable men throughout many generations. 
Dr. Cranfield's answer seemed to simply assume the "hypothetical" 
interpretation of Trapajreoovxac; without giving substantial evidence 
in support of it. Undoubtedly this was due to space limitations. 

None of the correspondents were aware of any instance of an 
articular adjectival participle occurring in the NT with a "condi- 
tional" meaning. 


It is the conclusion of this writer that TrapaTrsaovxac; is an 
adjectival-substantival participle, one in a series of five, governed by 
the article tout; which initiates the series, napaneaovxag functions as 
one of five substantival direct objects of the infinitive dvoiKaivi^eiv. 
The series is limited by the connectives -re . . . Kai . . . Kai . . . Kai. As 
such, it would seem that TtaparceaovTac; cannot be adverbial and thus 
it should not be regarded as conditional. 


This conclusion was overwhelmingly supported by the majority 
of Greek scholars who were sampled during the survey. It is recognized 
that this is a limited sampling of opinions and thus the survey has an 
inherent inductive weakness. Time would not permit the sampling of 
many other fine scholars whose opinions would be inestimable. 
However, it is believed that the survey represents an accurate trend of 


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made 
John C. Whitcomb and David C. Whitcomb 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Surgeon Looks at the Human and 
Spiritual Body, by Dr. Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1980. Pp. 214. $8.95. 

Here is a comparatively brief but beautifully written comparison of the 
intricacies of the human body with the majesty and complex function of the 
spiritual Body of Christ on earth. The beautiful, almost poetically imagina- 
tive description of the structure, function, and inter-relationship of human 
body cells, bones, skin, and nerves, make this book a treasure-house of 
illustrations and comparisons with God's greater work in the spiritual realm. 
Seldom have the reviewers been so fascinated by a match between magnifi- 
cent scope of subject matter and marvelous descriptive style. The careful 
reader will surely be caused to cry out with David, "I praise you because I am 
fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psa 139:14). Even more, he will marvel at 
the significance of our Lord's promise concerning his spiritual body: "I will 
build my church" (Matt 16:18). 

The principal author of this volume is Dr. Paul Brand, Chief of 
Rehabilitation Branch of U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, Carville, 
Louisiana. Dr. Brand has been honored by the British government for his 
pioneering research on leprosy in India, where he served as medical mission- 
ary for eighteen years. He is also widely known as a hand surgeon. The co- 
author, Phillip Yancey, serves as Executive Editor of Campus Life Magazine 
and Editor of Campus Life Books. 

For a person with little or no scientific background the book provides an 
excellent introduction to the fascinating world of medical science. Brand and 
Yancey have taken complex and difficult physiological processes and pre- 
sented them in a brief and accurate story form with well-chosen illustra- 
tions. Remarkably, the reader is left with a fundamental understanding of the 
physiological or mechanical property being discussed and also with the sense 
of amazement and excitement about body function that is experienced by 
those with a thorough knowledge of the subject. Particularly memorable are 
his discussions of the human eye (p. 22), the recognition of its own cells by 
the body (p. 44), the amazing DNA code (pp. 45-46), the analogy of cancer 
within the physical and spiritual body (p. 60), the structure of the skeleton 
(p. 70), and the mysterious hierarchy of neuron cells (pp. 183-90). 


Of the several hundred illustrations appearing throughout the book only 
a few were simplified to the point of inaccuracy. For example, Dr. Brand 
states that "a single atom differentiates animal blood from plant chlorophyll" 
(p. 44). Here he refers to the similarities between the magnesium porphyrin 
complex of plants and the iron porphyrin complex (also known as "heme") of 
animals. Iron porphyrin is the functional group in hemoglobin, the molecule 
which carries oxygen in the red blood cell, but even this is only a small 
component of the complex substance known as blood. Therefore, the differ- 
ence between animal blood and plant chlorophyll involves much more than a 
single atom. 

Another error, from a physiological standpoint, appears on p. 170 where 
Dr. Brand states that "accumulating carbon dioxide in the lungs will trigger a 
mechanism to override conscious desire and force the muscles of the ribs, 
diaphragm, and lungs to move." Actually, the lungs are absolutely insensitive 
to carbon dioxide. However, an increase in carbon dioxide in arterial blood 
to the brain stem will cause an increase in the hydrogen ion concentration of 
the cerebrospinal fluid bathing the ventral medulla and anterior pons (bi- 
lateral inspiratory and expiratory centers, and bilateral pneumotaxic centers). 
When the change in hydrogen ion concentration is great enough, these areas 
will override the influence of higher centers (e.g., cerebral cortex) and 
stimulate the muscles of respiration. In short, accumulating carbon dioxide 
(and therefore a concomitant change in hydrogen ion concentration) will 
eventually force one to breathe, but the mechanism is triggered in the brain 
stem, not in the lungs. 

However, the technical inaccuracies were few and of little consequence. 
For instance, his description of the white blood cell as resembling the science 
fiction creature "The Blob," armed with "chemical explosives" (p. 17), cer- 
tainly gives most readers a more realistic image than describing them as 
amorphous polymorphonuclear neutrophils or macrophages armed with 14 
specific enzymes, 10 complement components, reactive oxygen metabolites, 
bioactive lipids and numerous chemotactic factors! Thus, while one would 
not consider the book an authoritative medical text, it is outstanding for 
illustrative purposes. 

Throughout the book our author deals not only with normal anatomy 
and physiology, but also with the causes of pathological conditions and 
diseases. Dr. Brand spends considerable time discussing leprosy, his true area 
of expertise. As the book progresses he describes different aspects of leprosy 
as they relate to the different body systems. By the final chapter he has 
presented a comprehensive overview of this disease in a way that is not only 
informative but dynamic. 

Dr. Brand also makes use of good illustrations from biology, engi- 
neering, and his experiences in clinical medicine. As was the case with his 
illustrations of normal anatomy and physiology, or disease, the explanations 
were short, to the point, and the applications appropriate. Overall the 
material was well balanced and accurate and both those with or without a 
medical science background will find this book unique and refreshing. 

With the availability of new technology and accumulated knowledge, it 
is becoming more and more characteristic of scientists to acknowledge the 

whitcomb/whitcomb: fearfully made 335 

fantastic complexity of the human brain and body. A remarkable charac- 
teristic about the present volume, however, is the high quality of many of its 
doctrinal and theological assertions as well. Take the the Biblical doctrine of 
spiritual and ecclesiastical separation, for example. In their six-chapter 
section on bones, Brand and Yancey devote an entire chapter to the concept 
of "Hardness." Here we are told that "the most important feature of bone is 
its hardness. That one property separates it from all other tissue in the body, 
and without hardness bone is virtually useless" (p. 75). Note the application: 
"Today one can easily muster up sympathy and support for Jesus' ethics 
governing behavior. But squeezed in between his statements on love and 
neighborliness are scores of harsh, uncompromising statements about our 
duties and responsibilities and about heaven and hell. . . . Today, some within 
the church attack law and doctrine. Situation ethics suggest that right and 
wrong often depend on the need and mood of the moment. I merely submit 
this single aspect of God's law: it must be consistent, like bone. Trust 
demands it. ... A respect for truth cannot be worn and then casually 
removed like a jacket; it cannot be contracted and then relaxed like a muscle. 
Either it is rigid and dependable, like healthy bone, or it is useless" (pp. 76- 
79). The basic philosophy of the modern ecumenical movement is strongly 
refuted and challenged by these thoughts. 

The following chapter contains some brilliant applications of the same 
basic truths. "The 206 lengths of calcium our body is strapped to are not 
there to restrict us; they free us." In the same way that an arm is able to move 
only when it contains "a proper scaffolding, external or internal, almost all 
our movements are made possible because of bone — rigid, inflexible bone. In 
the Body of Christ also the quality of hardness is not designed to burden us; 
rather, it should free us. Rules governing behavior work because, like bones, 
they are hard" (p. 83). The Ten Commandments "emerge as a basic skeleton 
of trust that links relationships between people and between people and God. 
God claims, as the Good Shepherd, that he has given law as the way to the 
best life. Our own rebellion, from the Garden of Eden onward, tempts us to 
believe he is the bad shepherd whose laws keep us from something good" 
(p. 85). 

And finally, a great comparison between the bones of our body and the 
revealed laws of God: "A skeleton is never beautiful; its contributions are 
strength and function. I do not inspect my tibia and wish it to be longer or 
shorter or more jointed. I just gratefully use it for walking, thinking about 
where I want to go rather than worrying about whether my legs will bear my 
weight. I should respond that way to the basic fundamentals of the Christian 
faith and the laws governing human nature. They are merely the framework 
for relationships which work best when founded on set, predictable princi- 
ples. Of course, we can break them: adultery, thievery, lying, idolatry, 
oppression of the poor have crept into every society in history. But the result 
is a fracture that can immobilize the entire body. Bones, intended to liberate 
us, only enslave us when broken" (p. 88). 

But how do we know that all of the doctrines taught in the Bible are 
really true? Here we find a simple but clear presentation of Christian 
presuppositionalism. "I have known many times of doubt. In India, I was 


challenged by the attractions of other religions devoutly practiced by millions 
of people. In medical school I faced constant exposure to assumptions that 
the universe is based on randomness, without room for an intelligent De- 
signer. As I have grappled with these and other issues — questions about the 
person of Christ, trust in the Bible, etc. — I have learned it is sometimes 
helpful to continue accepting as a rule of life something about which I have 
basic intellectual uncertainties. In other words, I have learned to trust the 
basic skeleton and use it even when I cannot figure out how various bones fit 
together and why some are shaped the way they are" (p. 94). 

Dr. Brand then describes "a certain bridge in South America" which 
consisted of "interlocking vines supporting a precariously swinging platform 
hundreds of feet above a river. . . . When I put my weight on that bridge and 
walk across even though my heart is pounding and my knees are shaking, I 
am declaring my position. In the Christian world, I sometimes must live like 
this, making choices which contain inherent uncertainty. If I wait for all the 
evidence to be in, for everything else to be settled, I'll never move. Often, I 
have had to act on the basis of the bones of the Christian faith before those 
bones were fully formed in me and before I understood the reason for their 
existence. Bone is hard, but it is alive. If the bones of faith do not continue to 
grow, they soon become dead skeletons" (p. 95). This is a good start in 
Christian apologetics. 

Dr. Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey have provided additional helpful 
insights on doctrinal and theological issues. The danger of pushing new 
converts into positions of prominence is clearly stated (p. 154). A healthy 
warning against the charismatic attitude concerning the discovery of God's 
will is sounded: "Actually, I believe most of what God has to say to me is 
already written in the Bible and the onus is on me to diligently study his will 
revealed there" (p. 195). 

Commenting on John 13:35, the authors suggest that "the analogy of 
skin — soft, warm, and touchable — conveys a message of a God who is eager 
to relate in love to his creations. Christ was saying to us: Let the world first 
see the beauty and feel the softness and warmth of the Christian community, 
and then let it realize the underlying internal framework" (p. 120). By way of 
contrast, even the most "spiritual" missionaries face tremendous tensions in 
their relationships to one another on the battleline of the foreign field 
(p. 182). 

With regard to the Christian walk, our authors feel that "the Bible 
encourages us to ground ourselves in contact with God and his Word so 
thoroughly that our Christian actions become like reflexes to us. If I must 
decide whether to tell the truth in the face of every situation, my life is 
hopelessly complex. But if I have a reflex of truthfulness that responds 
without orders higher up, I can learn to 'walk' as a Christian without having 
to think about each individual step" (p. 194). 

Although he does not adequately follow through on the theological 
dangers of the "evangelical social gospel" emphasis of our day, Dr. Brand, a 
medical missionary in India for many years, does offer some helpful insights 

whitcomb/whitcomb: fearfully made 337 

on the problem: "Every week my mailbox bulges with appeals for help from 
Christian organizations involved in feeding the hungry . . . but it saddens me 
that the only thread connecting millions of giving Christians to that world is 
the distant, frail medium of direct mail. Ink stamped on paper, stories 
formula-edited to achieve the best results — there is no skin involved, no sense 
of touch. If I only express love vicariously through a check, I will miss the 
incredible richness of response that a tactile loving summons up. ... If we 
choose to love only in a long-distance way, we will be deprived, for skin 
requires regular contact if it is to remain sensitive and responsive" (p. 147- 

"The needs are so overwhelming that, instead of shocking us to action, 
they make us callous, insensitive. In some ways, we are acquiring an 
intolerable burden of guilt that could immobilize us. Again, I think back to 
the ministry of Jesus. He healed people, but in a localized area. In His 
lifetime, he did not affect the Celts or the Chinese or the Aztecs. Rather, he 
set in motion a Christian mission which was to spread throughout the world, 
responding to human needs everywhere" (p. 149). These insights on the 
purpose and limitations of Christian social work seem to fit better the parable 
of the Good Samaritan which our Lord taught than many of the global 
social /political action programs that increasingly characterize evangelical 
thinking today. 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made provides for the Christian world a 
marvelous analysis of the infinite complexity of the structure and inter- 
relationships of the human body, and compares this with the structure and 
functions of the spiritual body of Christ. Since most of the book deals with 
God's creative wisdom, one might reasonably expect to find some reference 
to God's creation account in the first chapters of Genesis. Remarkably, this is 
nowhere to be found! The reader is left to wonder whether the first two 
chapters of Genesis provide for us a literal and scientifically accurate account 
of the original creation of the human race by God. In view of the widespread 
compromises and confusions in the Christian community concerning God's 
record of creation, this is a perplexing omission in an otherwise helpful book. 

Neither Dr. Brand, a Christian surgeon, nor Phillip Yancey, a Christian 
journalist, exhibit anywhere in this book an awareness of the modern 
Creationist movement. Dr. Brand admits that he received his medical training 
in England under "such secular biologists as J. B. S. Haldane and H. H. 
Woolard, pioneers of evolutionary theory" (p. 94). He keenly felt the intel- 
lectual dishonesty of holding to evolutionism while in school and at the same 
time holding to Christianity while in church: "In the university their students 
took exams and recited the theory of evolution; when they joined the church, 
they declared their faith in a way that contradicted their exam answers. 
Ultimately, this dichotomy led to a sense of intellectual schizophrenia." 

But how was this tension resolved? "Only after much research and long 
periods of reflection was I able to put together what I had learned at church 
and what I had learned at school. But in the meantime, I determined that my 
faith was based on realities that could stand by themselves and that did not 
need to be subordinated to any explanation of science. Either I would 
discover that evolution was compatible with the God of my faith, or I would 


find that evolution was somehow wrong and I would stay with my faith. I 
operated on that assumption for years during which I was unable to fill in all 
the blanks about how creation and evolution fit together" (p. 95). But the 
reader is essentially left in the dark as to the conclusion he arrived at! Instead 
of sharing with his readers his understanding of the priority of God's 
revelation in Scripture, or even providing evidences from science that contra- 
dict the theory of evolution, the following statement is all that is offered to 
the reader to resolve the problem: "In recent years, new understanding of the 
nature of DNA has made the possibility of chance evolution so unlikely that 
the position of one who believes in supernatural intelligence has been 
tremendously strengthened" (p. 95). Chance evolution is presented as "un- 
likely," thus leaving the door wide open for any or all forms of theistic 

This openness to theistic evolutionism seems to be confirmed by refer- 
ences to the amoeba (p. 16) and the egg (p. 28) as being "primordial" forms. 
Likewise, earthworms and slugs are passed off as "primitive" forms (p. 73). 
On the other hand, the internal skeleton (pp. 73, 107) and the opposable 
thumb (p. 164) are classified as "more advanced" forms. Such expressions are 
appropriate only for one who presupposes the evolutionary concept of earth 

Is it possible that Brand and Yancey might carry their evolutionary ideas 
over into human history? When the Ten Commandments were given by God, 
"people were not yet ready for an emphasis on the positive commands . . . the 
Ten Commandments were the fetal development of bone, the first ossification 
of cartilage" (p. 86). By contrast, however, in the church age, "the law of love 
is the fully developed, firm, liberating skeleton. It allows smooth movement 
within the Body of Christ, for it is hinged and jointed in the right places" 
(p. 87). Is this a fair statement of biblical truth? Or do we find here a 
reflection of the "evolution of religion" concepts of the 19th-century thinkers? 
Did not God command Israel through Moses: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thine might" 
(Deut 6:5)? And did not God also command Israel through Moses: "Thou 
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord" (Lev 19:18)? Love did not 
begin with the Church! 

Although the authors are careful to insist that "the principles God has 
laid out ... do not change" (p. 99), the reader is given the disturbing 
impression that somehow religion continues to evolve! "A continuing need 
exists for prophets and teachers to interpret unchanging principles in light of 
the peculiar conditions of their day. . . . These issues do not call for sweeping 
revisions of creeds and beliefs, but they do evince a need for some members 
of the church to reflect, study the Bible, and pray, and then lead the way in 
reinterpreting the will of God for their own generation. These people, 
prophets, and teachers, serve as living bone cells in Christ's Body, laying 
down the inorganic minerals that go into our frame" (pp. 99, 101). To 
illustrate how dangerous these vague statements can be, consider this sen- 
tence in the light of the modern trend toward abortion: "Respect for life must 
be cherished, although we redefine life in light of new medical advances" 
(p. 102). 

whitcomb/whitcomb: fearfully made 339 

In contrast to the authors' fine emphasis upon the need for strength and 
hardness in the skeletal structure of the body (cf. 83-88), we find a perplexing 
toleration of a doctrinal cancer within the spiritual Body of Christ. For 
example, Roman Catholicism, a deadly heresy within Christianity, seems to 
be accepted as a valid part of the theological structure of the Body of Christ. 
Note the comment concerning nuns and priests (p. 33), the high praise for 
Mother Teresa (p. 15) and a Catholic nun, Dr. Prau (p. 156). No one will deny 
that Roman Catholics, cultists, or even atheists, have accomplished heroic 
and self-sacrificing humanitarian deeds. But to describe these deeds as 
"serving part of Christ's Body" (p. 55) constitutes a theological blunder as 
serious as praising some aspect of cancerous cells for their contribution to the 
human body. 

Further confusion is generated by the unfortunate comparison of "Bible- 
belt fundamentalists" to Pharisees (p. 107). The Pharisees who opposed and 
finally crucified our Lord Jesus Christ were obviously unbelievers, for Jesus 
said to them: "Ye are of your Father, the devil, and the lusts of your Father 
ye will do" (John 8:44). Are Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey seriously 
suggesting that "Bible-belt fundamentalists" fit this description? 

In the analogy of the vine and the branches, our Lord assured us that 
"without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). The apostle Paul explained that 
it is God who works in us "to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). 
In the light of these and similar passages of Scripture, it is disappointing to 
read that "God, with His deep implicit regard for freedom, has left the final 
choice of action to individuals who are fully independent as the final common 
(nerve) path" (p. 191). 

Nevertheless, when full allowance is made for these theological errors, 
we still have in this volume a significant contribution of Christian journalism. 
The format and pen sketches add to the delight of reading the book. Spelling 
errors are remarkably few (cf. pp. 154, 156). With the high positive qualities 
of this volume serving as stepping stones, Christian scholarship now needs to 
move to even higher ground, incorporating our growing understanding of the 
magnificent structure and inner functions of the human body within the 
framework of God's special revelation in Scripture concerning the method 
God used to bring human beings into existence, the effect of the Fall and of 
the resulting unrestricted outworking of the second law of thermodynamics in 
human history with regard to our physical limitations, and, finally, the 
glorious destiny of the Christian in resurrection power through the redemp- 
tive work of Christ our Savior. Such a study is greatly needed today. May 
God be pleased to use Fearfully and Wonderfully Made as an instrument to 
encourage God's people to think even more deeply and carefully upon these 
marvellous realities. 


Christian Faith, by Hendrikus Berkhof. Translated by Sierd Woudstra. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. Pp. 568. $20.95. 

Among the works of Berkhof which are available for the English reader, 
this present volume, Christian Faith (Geloofsleer), is certainly his most 
ambitious and comprehensive enterprise, attempting to comprehend in one 
volume the entire spectrum of systematic theology. As with many con- 
temporary theologians, being convinced that dogmatics must serve the 
church, his prospect for this study is to be "both informative and inspira- 
tional" with respect to the level and needs of both "professionals as well as a 
larger public." As a result, he divides his discussions by means of two type 
sizes in the text: a larger print for the general public, and a smaller one for 
the professional theologian. The smaller print contains many interesting and 
worth-while interactions within historical dogmatics, giving particular space 
to the problems confronting contemporary theology, while the larger print 
provides a more general delineation of Berkhofs own particular system. 

Berkhof s system itself is not limited to an exegesis of an inerrant text, 
nor is it a pious submission to a revelatory Word. Instead, Christian theology 
for him is to be related to the totality of human experience and must even 
listen and dialogue with the "wisdom of the world." 

That does not alter the fact that wisdom plays a large role in the preservation of the 
world. The progress of revelation in the Bible is also determined by the wisdom of 
Egypt, Babel, Persia, and Greece. The theological development throughout the 
centuries is unthinkable without Plato and Aristotle, and later without Descartes, 
Kant, and Hegel. The natural sciences and the humanities have helped us to better 
understand the Bible. . . . Whatever the case, it does not change the fact that the 
world has its own input in the dialogue with the church (p. 420). 

Berkhof contends not for a faith that has been delivered once for all, but one 
that has become necessary to advance "since the Enlightenment." The divine 
Word is no longer the transcendent judge of human cogitations, but merely a 
contributing member of the all-too-human dialogue. 

As a result, Berkhof is neither an Israelite nor a Canaanite, but a 
Samaritan. In attempting to straddle the tensions "between rigid tradi- 
tionalism on the one side and rudderless modernism on the other" (p. xi), he 
chooses neither YHWH nor Baal, but an ethereal dialectic which calls for no 
commitment. For example, his characterization of eternal life and condemna- 
tion is typical of this ambiguity. Eternal life is depicted as "undisturbed rest, 
while the dynamic person may equally as fully expect that there he will be 


able to realize suppressed or undeveloped potentials and reach for even wider 
horizons" (p. 541). "Eternal" condemnation is upheld alongside intimations 
of universalism, maintaining that "we should not exegetically tamper with 
both these series, ... as surely as the last word is not left to man's decision, 
but to God's purpose" (p. 533). Due to this resignation to ethereal realms, 
Berkhof has also ipso facto resigned the task of systematic theology. 
Although his oftrepeated contention, that finite man "only knows in part" 
and that revelation is only provisional, is admirable, particularly in light of 
the arrogant propensity among theologians for consistent interrelated systems, 
this fragmented "provisionalism" can and does become here just as danger- 
ously systematic. 

? This tendency is displayed throughout his "system," but particularly in 
his effort to mediate between the theism of Barth and the humanism of 
Tillich. Whereas Barth has rejected access from surrounding territory and 
Tillich begins and ends with an analysis of the human situation, Berkhof 
attempts to border these "extremes." Faith is neither a narcissistic slave to 
human passions nor an unfruitful theocentric abstraction. Theology does in 
fact meet needs, but only in service of the truth. Yet more often than not, 
Tillich and existentialism gain the upper hand. Berkhofs Christianity origi- 
nates within the world of religion. All men are said to be innately religious, 
having an existential propensity for the divine. Man is described as "a 
responding creature, ... a being who is made to encounter God, to respond 
to his word." God only "makes possible" this encounter and in no wise 
"effects" it; man as a covenant partner must respond. And it only follows that 
if man is truly created to respond to God's love, then the implication is that 
"freedom is essential for man" and "freedom means that man, in contrast to 
the animal, is an unfinished being. Man is created as potentiality; his identity 
does not lie in him but before him" (p. 184). Nevertheless, true to form, 
Berkhof discards the problem of freedom and sovereignty with a dialectic of 
existential choice and "being chosen." 

To judge a volume like the present with a tersely worded "yes" or "no" is 
difficult. It certainly can be said that the layman will find it unintelligible. 
The theologian will find it neither a classic, nor even a priority. Yet he will 
find many valuable sections, especially those which deal with current theo- 
logical issues. Instead of unequivocally certifying or discrediting this work, I 
will conclude with some of my own dialectical mist. 

Stephen Strehle 

The American Pietism of Cotton Mather, by Richard F. Lovelace. Wash- 
ington: Christian University Press (A subsidiary of Eerdmans), 1979. Pp. 350. 
$9.95. Paper. 

Richard Lovelace, noted scholar in the history of American Christianity, 
has written an outstanding work on Cotton Mather, especially as his thought 
relates to the origins of American Evangelicalism. Students of American 
Christianity will be grateful to Lovelace for many years to come for this most 
valuable contribution to studies in American Puritanism. The author believes 
that the two great strains in Puritanism and Pietism were brought together by 


Mather, thus combining theology and Christian experience, and that this 
marriage greatly influenced leaders of Mather's day, such as Jonathan 
Edwards, greatly contributing to subsequent revivals in America. The new 
ground broken in this insightful book indentifies the origins of American 
Evangelicalism beyond nineteenth century Arminianism or scholastic ortho- 
doxy to the blend of Pietism and Puritanism in the seventeenth and early 
eighteenth centuries. The research for this book and for Lovelace's out- 
standing volume. The Dynamics of Spiritual Life, originated as a Th.D. 
dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary. 

Lovelace traces the history of Mather's life and the important events in 
his childhood, especially the influence of his grandfather, John Cotton. 
Following this brief history, which includes the sources and structure of 
Mather's theology, are lengthy summaries of the five prominent themes in his 
theology. The most insightful of these chapters develops the experience of 
rebirth or the psychology of conversion in the thought of New England 
Puritanism. The other chapters concern: the machinery of Piety, the Godly 
life, the ministry of doing good, and the unity of the Godly. One significant 
and unique aspect of Mather's theology was his premillennialism, somewhat 
uncharacteristic of his day. Mather successfully combined a premillennial 
eschatology with the social ministry of doing good. This combination could 
provide a helpful model for today's premillennialism which has often been 
negligent of the cultural mandate and social dimensions of the gospel. 

The contribution to the study of the psychology of conversion is one of 
the most beneficial that this reviewer has seen. For that reason, this review 
will concentrate on chapter three, The Experience of the New Birth. In any 
discussion of Puritan theology's treatment of the Christian experience, the 
subject of regeneration and conversion must be given a high priority. This is 
true not only because the experience was for Puritans the inception of piety, 
but also because in their tradition, this first awakening to God received a 
distinctive and exaggerated stress, enlarging it to the point of hypertrophy. 
The term conversion in Puritan theology includes the ideas of preparation, 
regeneration, justification by faith, and sanctification. The Puritans were 
primarily concerned with the experiential aspects of conversion. The unique 
aspect of Puritan conversion theology was that of preparation. It is true that 
Lutheran and Reformed orthodoxy as well as Pietism affirmed some form of 
preparatory stage of conversion before the new birth itself, a period of 
gestation before the actual delivery. But the notion of the "heart prepared" 
came to dominate Puritan soteriology, hence the Christian was summoned to 
cooperate with the preparatory grace so that he might be ready to receive the 
work of regeneration. For Mather, the question concerned whether this 
seeking for salvation is already a sign that the grace of conversion had been 
tasted, that the sphere of the kingdom had been entered. 

A unique item in Mather's theology was the denial of immediate 
conversion. For Mather, conversion was a process. In response to death-bed 
conversions, he argued that even the thief on the cross had been preparing his 
heart before his interview with Christ. Lovelace summarizes Mather's pre- 
paratory process in four steps: (1) admission of inability to repent and 
unworthiness of redemption, and confession of dependence on divine grace; 


(2) specific confession of areas of sin in the life — according to the deca- 
logue — and of original sin; (3) pleading the blood of Christ for cleansing of 
these, until assured of pardon; and (4) consecration of the walk of holiness. It 
is easy to see the depth and involvment of the preparation process as it was 
conceived in the time of Mather. Many, even those who preached the gospel 
for years, died in despair, spending the final months agonizing over the 
process of repentance and assurance. Herein lay the potential danger in 
Puritan evangelism. 

The importance of the book is found in Lovelace's ability to show the 
roots of American Evangelicalism in this conversion theology of New 
England Puritanism. American Evangelicalism's unique and outstanding iden- 
tifying character is also the emphasis upon conversion. Mather has left us 
with a strong biblical and evangelical heritage. Yet, Mather's detailed and 
lengthy sessions of preparation for conversion led to traumatic agonizations 
over the assurance of salvation. It seems that the result was a theology of 
conversion that was inherently self-contradictory with respect to faith. 
Lovelace correctly perceives that the idea of constant introspection and self- 
examination to determine one's assurance had somehow overshot the mark 
and wandered into a dangerous climate where psychological and spiritual 
despair was inevitable. As a result, Puritanism was successful in "snaring the 
big fish," i.e., the psychologially secure, but the majority of fearful bystanders 
were not stable enough to withstand the traumas. The whole history of 
Puritanism is a commentary on its failure to satisfy the cravings which its 
preaching had aroused. 

The outstanding quality of Puritanism, represented in Mather, has been 
purposely singled out in this review because the following years produced a 
shift in reaction to this conversion theology to an antinomian and Arminian 
theology. The reaction against this form of Calvinism, which had far sur- 
passed Calvin's views on these issues, has been detrimental to American 
Christianity. Thus, there is much to learn from Mather to bring us back to 
the center. We have moved, especially in revivalist circles, into an "easy- 
believism" where assurance and church membership are granted merely by 
walking an aisle. It is the conclusion of the reviewer that the pendulum has 
overswung. What we need today is a reemphasis upon the three bases of 
assurance, emphasizing especially the work of Christ and the witness of the 
Spirit, but not neglecting the marks of conversion. By doing this we will 
return to the biblical methodology, which alone is capable of producing 
spiritually fit and psychologically secure believers. 

David S. Dockery 
Fodt Worth, TX 

Commentary on Romans, by Ernst Kasemann, trans, and ed. by G. W. 
Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. xxx + 428. $22.50. 

This major commentary is a translation of the fourth German edition of 
An die Romer. In his Preface Kasemann relates that at the very outset of his 
theological education the course of his whole life and study was decided. The 
decisive factor was a lecture on the epistle to the Romans which, according to 


Kasemann, has been the most important literary document for his studies. He 
states that "the emphasis will lie on what Paul meant theologically" (p. vii), 
and that he proceeds normally "on the assumption that the text has a central 
concern and a remarkable inner logic that may no longer be entirely 
comprehensible to us" (p. viii). This emphasis on the unity of. Romans is a 
strength of the work. 

The format of this book is certainly not its strongest point. After 
supplying a detailed outline (pp. ix-xi) which is quite similar to that of many 
other commentaries, Kasemann lists the works which he has used most 
frequently (xiii-xxvii). The commentary plunges right into the text of 
Romans; the lack of a historical introduction to the epistle is a definite 
weakness. The English translation is evidently quite literal. Some sentences 
are quite long and include awkward phrasing. Documentation is by paren- 
thesis, not footnotes. This is another factor which contributes to the labori- 
ousness of reading through the commentary, though in fairness to the author 
it should be noted that this was probably not his preference (p. vii). The lack 
of an index is also a weakness. Probably the strongest point of the format is 
the inclusion of extensive bibliographies for every section of the epistle. These 
will be helpful to the serious student who needs to keep abreast of scholarly 
periodical articles on specific topics throughout the epistle. Those who wish 
to use the English edition with the German will be pleased to find the page 
numbers of the German bracketed in the margin. 

It should go without saying that some of Kasemann's theological per- 
spectives will not be shared by inerrantists. Though he emphasizes the unity 
of the letter in his Preface he still allows that Paul may contradict himself 
(p. 57). Romans 16 may be merely an appendix which was not originally 
attached to the rest of the epistle (p. 409). The concluding doxology (16:25- 
27) is viewed as inauthentic and dating from the beginning of the second 
century or even later (pp. 427-28). Since he is at a loss to interpret 7:25, he 
takes it as "the gloss of a later reader" (p. 212), even though he recognizes the 
precariousness of going against the whole textual tradition of the passage 
(p. 211). This is especially surprising in light of an earlier comment: "Remov- 
ing problems through textual criticism is highly dubious" (p. 1 1). 

Kasemann's exposition seems to be permeated by three main themes: 

(1) justification by faith as the central idea of the epistle (e.g., see pp. 23-24), 

(2) apocalyptic eschatology and the two aeons (e.g., see pp. 141-42; 220; 312; 
317), and (3) Paul's opposition to supposed enthusiasts (charismatics) in 
Rome (e.g., see pp. 242; 33 Iff.; 350ff.). The first of these three themes will be 
accepted by most conservatives since it is so traditional. It is not so easy to 
accept the emphasis Kasemann gives to the other two themes, however. 
Another questionable emphasis is found in several places where Kasemann 
injects baptism into the exposition (e.g., see pp. 146, 227, 244, 327, and 362). 

Due to the author's scholarly prestige at the forefront of recent NT 
scholarship, this commentary will undoubtedly be widely used. This is 
deservedly so since it is a work based upon a lifetime of study and since it is 
so comprehensive in its exegesis and interaction with modern scholarship. 
However, I hesitate to agree with other reviewers who have stated that this 
commentary is the "best available," and that it is the "most important" 


Romans commentary of the twentieth century, surpassing all others. These 
generalized superlatives obscure such questions as best for whom and for 
what! Scholars will certainly need to be aware of Kasemann's work; however, 
expositors may find more help from other sources. This is not to say that 
expositors should not be scholars but that expositors are not necessarily 
asking the questions which Kasemann seeks to answer (and vice versa). In 
other words, Kasemann's excellence lies in his detailed interaction with 
Romans in terms of contemporary critical scholarship. Those who seek to 
explain Romans to the people in the pews will find more help in such sources 
as Hendriksen (also reviewed here), Murray (NICNT), and Cranfield (ICC). 
If generalized superlatives are called for, however, my vote goes to Cranfield 
as the work which surpasses the others. 

David L. Turner 

Dynamics of Spiritual Life, by Richard F. Lovelace. Downers Grove: Inter- 
Varsity, 1979. Pp. 455. $8.95. Paper. 

Historically, Roman Catholics, with their concern for renewal, have been 
the "spiritual theologians" while Protestants have largely neglected this area. 
Writing from the Reformed perspective, Richard Lovelace has helped to fill 
this void by writing a spiritual theology for Evangelicals. Lovelace has 
demonstrated that Reformed theology is not necessarily intolerant or lifeless. 
He is quite open to other traditions within Christianity, including Pietism, 
Anabaptism, Neo-pentecostalism, and the historical renewals within Roman 
Catholicism. The model for the study is the Puritan- Pietist tradition of 
Jonathan Edwards, who in Religious Affections analyzed the psychology of 
conversion, as well as true and false revivals. The book is a history of 
renewals from the first great awakening of the 1740's to the Jesus movement 
of the past decade. 

In the first half of the book, Lovelace has distinguished between primary 
and secondary elements in renewal. Central to renewal is a proper under- 
standing of the atonement and justification. He says, "the substitutionary 
atonement is the heart of the gospel, and it is so because it gives the answer to 
the problem of guilt, bondage and alienation from God" (p. 97). Even the 
father of American Liberalism, Horace Bushnell, commented late in his life, 
"there is something in the sacrificial view of Christ's death which speaks to 
needs deep within the human heart as nothing else" (ibid.). Lovelace points 
out that in renewal, people come to Christ initially for a variety of reasons. 
Some of these are loneliness, anxiety, meaninglessness, suffering, and others, 
but only those whose eventual motivation is to turn from their sin to God 
and receive the answer to sin in the work of Jesus Christ are lastingly 
converted. He says that because we have traditionally muted the emphasis on 
sin, many persons experience a two-stage conversion, but we should recog- 
nize that no conversion is complete that does not deal with the problem of 
sin. "If all our preaching were properly centered around this problem and its 
answer in the cross, the number of two stage conversions would probably 
decrease sharply" (p. 109). The treatment of primary elements in renewal 
provides excellent discussions of sanctification, the indwelling Holy Spirit, 


and authority in spiritual conflict, which is one of the better sections, along 
with the aforementioned topics of atonement and justification. 

The second section of this part of the book deals with the secondary 
elements, which according to Lovelace flow out of the primary elements. He 
identifies the secondary elements as: orientation toward missions, dependent 
prayer, community among believers, theological integration, and disencultu- 
ration. Theological integration, he says, "is necessary because the sanctifica- 
tion of the mind is critically important, leading to a developed understanding 
of the mind of Christ under the Holy Spirit's guidance and illumination" 
(p. 146). Disenculturation is possible only when we rely fully on Christ for 
justification and sanctification. This involves a release from the entanglement 
of American culture, which prevents us from reflecting on the diversity of life 
in Christ. The discussion of the community of believers traces the history of 
Pietism and its goal of community and renewal. In this section, Lovelace 
identifies the goal of the book as helping to bring about transformation of the 
whole church through dynamic renewal and community life in the church 
(p. 166). 

Practical issues like the renewal of the local congregation, how revivals 
go wrong, live orthodoxy, unitive Evangelicalism, and a large section discus- 
sing the spiritual roots of social concern make up the second half of the book. 
Again the Puritan-Pietist model is proposed. Regarding unity, he treats such 
important subjects as models of apostasy and recovery, when separation is 
necessary, and the goal of unity. Lovelace could be classified as an ecumeni- 
cal evangelical who desires a unitive thrust within Evangelicalism. He ob- 
serves that currently our denominations seem to break down into two 
categories: "the smaller, conservative, separatist bodies maintaining the pure 
church ideal with an antiseptic discipline so strong that it occasionally 
sterilizes their own creativity; and the large historical descendents of earlier 
separations, now so indiscriminately inclusive that to Evangelicals they 
resemble mission fields" (p. 291). He creatively compares these to the white 
and red corpuscles in the human body, maintaining that both are necessary 
for life. There must be a balance between unity and purity. Caution given on 
how to avoid trends toward the reversal of renewals is very practical. The 
chart showing the effect of such trends (p. 321) nicely illustrates the discus- 

Some of the practical suggestions offered in the latter section of the book 
will no doubt be open to question. For example, many of the more conserva- 
tive Evangelicals will question Lovelace's analysis of the benefits of Christian 
rock music associated with the Jesus movement. He cites approval of the 
abilities of Larry Norman and others to communicate strongly through song 
the message of the gospel. Those who were actively involved with Christian 
movements on university campuses in the past fifteen years will most likely 
agree with Lovelace's conclusions (this reviewer included). The music of 
Larry Norman has been the vehicle of transition for many from the world to 
the Kingdom of light. There are of course inherent dangers in the movement 
itself, thus the approval must be a cautious one. The concluding section offers 
prospects for renewal in the future for Evangelicals. 


The book offers Evangelicals a sense of belonging to a positive historical 
spiritual tradition. This alone makes the book worthwhile. But, there is ever 
so much more. Lovelace takes us back beyond this century to Edwards, 
Wesley, Zinzendorf, and Franke. He paints for the reader a picture of the 
spiritual warfare that has existed between Christ and his followers and the 
cohorts of Satan. This helps us to see that Satan is always ready to challenge 
any spiritual conflict. The book will provide a much needed tool for the void 
in the average seminary curriculum, which tends to be too academically 
oriented in its approach to theology. Here is a book for the neglected area of 
the study of the Christian life, both individually and corporately. It is a book 
that should be read by all pastors, and by all Christians for that matter, who 
are interested in the renewal of the church. Theological students from all 
traditions should be required to read this book before seminary graduation. 
Dynamics of Spiritual Life definitely has to be considered one of the most 
important publications in this generation. Let us pray that it will be used by 
God to bring about the transformation within the body of Christ so strongly 
desired by the author. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 

New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, 
vol. 1, chs. 1-8, by William Hendriksen. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Pp. x + 
303. $14.95. 

The appearance of vol. 1 of Hendriksen's Romans commentary is an 
exciting event to the student who is aware of both the challenges of Romans 
and the excellencies of Hendriksen's previous works. The reputation of this 
author is such that this review need not belabor it. Suffice it to say that the 
commentaries of William Hendriksen are among the best general purpose 
commentaries available today. Of course, there are commentaries which 
contain more critical and exegetical material, and commentaries which 
contain more "devotionalizing," but Hendriksen's works provide a well- 
balanced alternative to both sterile exegesis and devotional drivel. 

The format of the Romans commentary does not vary from that of other 
volumes in this series. After a modest introduction to the epistle (pp. 3-31), he 
launches into the exposition of the text. An outline of the book found in the 
introduction (p. 30) is repeated before each section as it is discussed. 
Justification by faith is viewed as the theme of the epistle and the outline 
develops this theme as (1) Real and necessary (Romans 1-3), (2) Scriptural 
(4), and (3) Effective (5-8). One could wish that this outline was more detailed 
and that it was developed in a more parallel manner. References to Greek 
words and syntax are regularly handled in footnotes. Interspersed throughout 
the commentary at appropriate places are practical anecdotes and poetic 
excerpts. At the end of each section of exposition there is an excursus on 
"practical lessons" (preachers will find these valuable) and a summary of the 


Hendriksen is certainly to be commended for his well-balanced presenta- 
tion. In how many commentaries does one find both text-critical studies and 
warmly devotional excerpts from well-known hymns (e.g., pp. 168-69)? 
Hendriksen is thus a rebuke both to the ivory-tower technician and to the 
shallow exhorter who merely drops worn-out cliches. 

Another area of commendation concerns the manner in which Hen- 
driksen disagrees with others. He is not one to avoid critical interaction, but 
he does it with great kindness. The foreword (p. v) includes this statement, 
"Here and there I disagree with those for whom I have the highest respect, 
and whose writings I warmly recommend. May the cause of the gospel 
prosper even through differences in interpretation!" A specific example of 
this irenic spirit is the frequent dialogue with the Lutheran Lenski, who tends 
to be more Arminian than Hendriksen. See especially n. 30, p. 63, where 
praise is lavished and criticism is offered in the same sentence! 

A few areas of interpretation ought to be briefly noted. It seems that 
Hendriksen's useful introduction may have oversimplified the question of the 
composition of the church at Rome (pp. 20-22). He views the church as 
composed mainly of Gentile Christians. Cranfield's reticence to be dogmatic 
on this issue (Romans, ICC, 1:18-21) is preferable to me. On p. 20, n. 7, 
Bauer should be spelled Baur. 

In the discussion of the threefold TtapsSwicsv (1:24, 26, 28) Hendriksen 
concludes that the meaning is an active and final judicial abandonment by 
God (p. 75). One could wish that the question of natural theology was 
handled in more detail, but, after all, that question may be outside the realm 
of exposition. Related to this question, I believe Hendriksen is correct in 
taking the participle kcitexovtwv (1:18) as conative (p. 68). Men created in 
God's image can only attempt to suppress God's truth — they cannot totally 
accomplish that suppression. At the bottom of p. 68, n. 34, the word 
"conative" is wrongly changed to "conotative" in point c. 

With reference to 3:9, a notoriously difficult passage, I agree with 
Hendriksen (pp. 119-20) that rcpoexoueOa is the correct reading and should 
be understood as an active voice, "do we excel?" I am not so sure, however, 
that ou 7rdvT(D<; should be rendered as a decisive negation, "absolutely not, 
not at all." Hendriksen's reason for translating it this way is the "radical 
nature of the explanatory and confirmatory quotations in verses 10-18" 
(p. 121, n. 81), but this is not convincing. In light of the question and answer 
of 3:1, which seem to imply an advantage for the Jews, 3:9 is better 
understood this way: "What then? Do we excel? Not in every way. . . ." Thus 
Paul seems to be saying that although the Jews have a certain limited 
advantage (3:1-2), they have no advantage at all regarding sin, since Paul has 
previously shown that both Jews and Gentiles are under its dominion (3:9). 
Though most authorities agree with Hendriksen here, Thayer (Lexicon, p. 
476) and Cranfield (Romans, ICC, 1:190) support ou rcavTcoq as a limited 
negation. Hendriksen's view seems to put 3:9 in contradiction to 3:1. 

The exposition of 5:12 is quite noteworthy in that the last two words 
(Ttdvisq fjuapiov) are interpreted as actual, personal sins (pp. 178-79). Here 
Hendriksen parts company with Murray (Romans, NICNT) and many other 
advocates of representative or federal headship (Note the humorous final 


sentence of n. 153, p. 179!). However, Hendriksen believes that 5:12a and 
5:15b affirm that "the entire human race was included in Adam, so that when 
Adam sinned, all sinned" (p. 178). Thus he seems to take a view more along 
the lines of realistic or seminal headship. I would agree with Hendriksen that 
irdvxeg fjuapiov refers to actual personal sins but I wonder whether 5:12a 
and 5:15b can sustain the realistic view. There is a difference between 
asserting that all are sinners because of Adam and asserting that all sinned in 

One final area of interpretation must be briefly mentioned. Hendriksen 
does a fine job of handling the difficulties of Rom 7:14-25 (pp. 225-30). He 
discusses whether these verses describe an unbeliever, an immature believer, 
or believers in general, and correctly (in my opinion) settles upon the view 
that even the most mature believer experiences such daily struggles. 

In conclusion, this is a fine, well-balanced commentary. Serious students 
will want to complement it with Murray (NICNT) and Cranfield (ICC) where 
more detailed attention is given to critical and syntactical questions. Exposi- 
tors of God's Word will be greatly aided by both its concise summaries of 
exegetical questions and by its practical insights. The appearance of the 
second volume with its section on Romans 9-11 should prove to be interest- 
ing to premillennialists like myself who have been tantalized by the author's 
statements on pp. 30-31 and 266-69! We hope that Dr. Hendriksen will 
continue to have the health necessary for him to carry on his excellent work. 

David L. Turner 

The Gospel in America, by John D. Woodbridge, Mark A. Noll, and Nathan 
O. Hatch, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979. Pp. 286. $9.95. 

This work is not to be confused with another book on the popular 
ascendancy of Evangelicalism in America. Neither is it a full-scale history of 
American Christianity like Ahlstrom's or Gaustad's. Rather, as the subtitle 
indicates, it is a series of "themes in the story of America's Evangelicals." It is 
indeed a delight to recommend this fine work which helps us to under- 
stand present-day Evangelicalism better by seeing it in light of its roots. 

The three authors have combined their efforts to provide a much-needed 
synthesis of our past. They explore the background of seven themes that have 
been important for the present. These themes include theology, the Bible, 
revivalism, separation, the church, the nation, and society. 

The reader is led through the divergent streams of Christianity that have 
produced contemporary Evangelicalism. Contrary to Donald Dayton's view 
that our roots are to be found in Finney's revivalism or Bernard Ramm's 
contention that our roots lie in protestant scholasticism, the authors reveal 
how Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Charles Hodge, Barton Stone, D. L. 
Moody, and Billy Graham have influenced the development of American 
Evangelicalism. It is interesting to note the importance of revivalism repre- 
sented in this list. With the exception of Hodge, all have played important 
roles in major awakenings in America. 

As is often the case with multi-authored works, the quality is uneven at 
times. This also causes duplication of several discussions. The outstanding 


chapters are 2, 4, 5, and 8. In these chapters, one sees the trauma of the 
division caused by the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, the priority of 
the Bible in Evangelicalism, the prominence of revivals, and the continued 
temptation that has again and again faced Christians — equating American 
loyalty or partriotism with Christianity. 

The authors are quick to point out the weaknesses as well as the 
strengths of the movement. Three common themes are seen repeatedly: 
individualism, revivalism, and separatism. An understanding of the mistakes 
that have been made in the past will help us avoid similar mistakes in the 
future. It will bring balance and not reaction to our theology. We can see that 
historically Evangelicals have participated actively in social action. This 
understanding will help us avoid the reaction of fundamentalism in the early 
part of this century. We must not become one-dimensional in our theology or 
missiology, but realize that each has a vertical and horizontal dimension. It is 
also obvious that Evangelicals often have been too quick to separate, 
especially over secondary issues. We must see the importance given to unity 
in the New Testament and in the early centuries of the church and seek to 
maintain it for our day as well. Yet, it must never be forgotten that 
Evangelicalism has always defended the historic orthodox faith and ortho- 
doxy must never be sacrificed for unity. 

This book is primarily intended for the general audience, but it could 
also find a place in the classroom. Generally, it is well written, with few 
mistakes. The bibliography is quite brief, but the index makes the book very 
useful. The book is yet another significant contribution by the new generation 
of Evangelical historians. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 

Karl Barth and Evangelicalism, by Gregory C. Bolich. Downers Grove: 
Inter Varsity, 1980. Pp. 238. $6.95. Paper. 

Interest in Karl Barth's theology is once again on the rise, especially 
within the Evangelical community. There is hardly an Evangelical seminary 
(from the Evangelical right [Dallas] to the Evangelical left [Fuller]) that does 
not offer a course in Barth's Dogmatics. Cornelius Van Til, in the 1940's, 
declared that Barth and his followers were not part of a new orthodoxy, but a 
new liberalism. Many viewed this as a definitive statement and thus declared 
Barth a heretic without bothering to labor through the massive Dogmatics 
for themselves. Recently, Evangelical theologians have begun to read Barth 
(at least in part) and the result has been astonishing. Seldom has there been a 
theologian who so carefully presented his findings with painstaking exegesis 
coupled with such a grasp of historical theology. This is not to mention the 
homiletical and ethical gold mines which can be found; for Barth was first a 
pastor and his theology was done for the church. 

Gregory Bolich has given us a challenging reassessment of Karl Barth 
which will prove useful as an introduction to Barth's thought (especially 
section 3). Bolich's contention is not that Evangelicals should adopt Barth's 
thinking per se, but that his methodology should serve as a pattern for doing 


theology. By this, he desires for theology to be stated from a positive 
didactical (and dialectical) standpoint as opposed to a defensive polemic. 
Bolich argues, and somewhat convincingly, that the modern world will listen 
more attentively to such a methodology. The tension for the Evangelical 
comes in attempting to communicate to the modern man without sacrificing 
any element of truth. 

The author begins by identifying the present crisis within an ever- 
maturing Evangelical theology. He surveys such issues as inerrancy, proposi- 
tionalism, and the discussion concerning the social dimensions of the gospel. 
Within this crisis, he identifies the various positions as well as the different 
ways theologians have responded to Barth. Those listed as "foes" of Barth, 
according to Bolich, are: Clark, Gerstner, Pinnock, Ryrie, Schaeffer, Brown, 
and Montgomery. Barth's "friends" are Brown, Carnell, Daane, Bloesch, 
Ramm, Runia, Bromiley, Packer, Ladd, Henry, Bruce, and Bockmuhl. This 
classification should not be taken as an absolue rejection by the former group 
or as complete acceptance by the latter. I must agree with Bolich that to listen 
and learn from Barth is not necessarily to accept every or even any thought of 
his without revision or qualification. 

While acknowledging that a book of this nature is necessary, and 
overdue, I must take issue with Bolich's apparent acceptance of Barth's view 
of Scripture. Barth's mammoth contribution to the subject of revelation is 
simultaneously lacking in a detailed discussion of inspiration or even illumi- 
nation. Barth was indeed a champion of special revelation and his emphases 
upon the living word, the written word, and the preached word as the three 
aspects of special revelation were indeed worthy. Yet, somehow he failed to 
appreciate fully the uniqueness of the written word as the inspired word of 
God. Barth's view, which Bolich believes will help bring renewal to Evan- 
gelicalism, that the written word, is only a record of God's revelation is sadly 
lacking. I contend that anything short of stating that the Bible is at least the 
revelation of God's revelation must be questioned. Barth proposed that 
revelation is personal but not propositional. Why not personal and proposi- 
tional? Thank goodness for Barth's own inconsistency that allowed him to 
write the multi-volume Dogmatics. How else can theology be written except 
by propositional statements? Consistent Evangelicals must reject Barth's 
content regarding the issue of Scripture, and his methodology as a model is 

Second, I must question Bolich's view that Barth as a model will bring 
about a more positive Evangelical theology. Barth's theological life was 
seemingly a constant polemic: early in his career with the liberals like Ritschl, 
Harnack, and Hermann, and later, as he moved closer to orthodoxy, with 
Brunner, Bultmann, and Tillich. Everyone knows of the classic confrontation 
with Brunner concerning general revelation. Bolich has also neglected Barth's 
political ethic, it seems. It appears to me that theology since the time of the 
New Testament has contained polemical elements, and out of these polemics 
have grown the basic articles of the Christian faith. Yet, to avoid reactionary 
theology, Bolich is correct that a positive, didactical Evangelical theology 
must be clearly articulated within the near future. I would offer as an 
example the present controversy over Scripture, since that is the area in 


which Bolich also chose to operate. Why should we not state our position 
positively, rather than negatively? Should we not affirm that God's revelation 
is both propositional and personal, that is that God both speaks and acts in 
history? Could the nature of Scripture not be described as true, trustworthy, 
and authoritative instead of using negative descriptions like inerrancy and 
infallibility? I believe that we could do so without compromise and simul- 
taneously communicate more accurately with the layman in the pew. If this is 
Bolich's contention, and I think it is in part, then it certainly should be 

Even with these shortcomings, Bolich's contribution is nevertheless 
beneficial. While not as helpful as Bromiley's Introduction to the Theology of 
Karl Barth, it is still most insightful into this century's most productive 
theologian. Barth's methodology can provide a helpful model for Evan- 
gelicals in many areas. Barth should be read critically and compassionately 
because there is much to learn from the man who was the theologian of the 
twentieth century. 

David S. Dockery 
Fort Worth, TX 



@^ SEPT 88